For most consumers, purchasing their next vehicle is a major decision which involves careful thinking and due diligence to ensure that they are purchasing a vehicle which not only satisfies their lifestyle needs, but also one that suits their financial requirements. However, with over 58 car brands to choose from, finding the best suited vehicle can be overwhelming.
In 2013 carsales.com.au commissioned independent research company Ipsos to bring the car buying journey to light for the Australian marketplace. In 2017, with changes in the purchase journey brought on by the continued rise of digital, carsales.com.au engaged Ipsos to revisit the auto buyer journey 4 years on. It was important to gauge what's changed, what's stayed the same, and what the automotive future looks like for today's car buyers.
This new research navigates this new buying landscape; one that is ever more cluttered and competitive, and one where consumers can arm themselves with information via multiple digital channels before ever stepping foot in a physical showroom.
- The research uncovers that consumers experience 4 distinct stages on their path to purchasing a new vehicle – one fewer than in 2013 – and that digital media plays a crucial role throughout their 2.7 month journey to vehicle ownership, down from 4.3 months in 2013.
- Consumers in 2017 feel confident and informed throughout their journey, much more so than their 2013 counterparts did. Digital audience measurement figures from Nielsen confirm that adults spend more than double the amount of time online now than we did in 2013, and this is likely to be what's driving this new bold and self-assured consumer.
- Digital sources are used to research and cross reference information, as well as to gain a broad understanding of the market. Buyers in 2017 do a considerable amount of research online before even stepping into a dealership, and feel much more confident as a result.
- The dealership experience plays a role as a key resource for consumers earlier in the purchase journey than it did in 2013. Consumers are seeking tactile experiences that cannot be realised through their digital channels, and dealership experiences can help fulfill this need.
- Once buyers commit to a purchase they still have a strong need to validate their decision, using digital resources to post-rationalise their purchase.
- The majority of consumers are open to a future where they can conduct the entire car buying journey online, with current confidence levels in transacting online high.However the desire for a physical experience with the vehicle still needs to be fulfilled.