71% would limit the number of dealerships they visit right now due to health/safety concerns
Urban Science and The Harris Poll released data and insights from a June 2020 study of 1,505 consumers indicating that 61% of consumers agree that entire vehicle purchase process will change forever due to COVID-19.
More than three-quarters (78%) see some benefit to shopping for a new vehicle entirely online versus in-person, with about a third or more citing less pressure from salespeople (38%) and the convenience (37%) or safety (32%) of not having to leave the home. Though they see the benefits, even more (93%) express some concern with an entirely online new vehicle purchase process.
“It’s important to note that one-third of consumers (36%) agree that there is no reason to ever visit a car dealership again,” said Simon Bradley, global practice director, network, Urban Science. “This is a wake-up call that alternative retail formats, such as brand experience centers, could have a role in changing consumer sentiment with a new safe, trusted and neutral brand representative.”
Further, 71% agree that they would limit the number of dealerships they visited if they were purchasing a new vehicle right now due to health and safety concerns. Long-term, a quarter of adults think fewer people will do in-person test drives before buying/leasing (27%) and that more people will be willing to use virtual or augmented reality to experience a vehicle (25%) with nearly one-third (31%) believing sales departments will do more mobile visits to customers’ homes.
“It’s very clear that trust will be earned in new ways, and that a number of the adaptations the public has made during the pandemic are here to stay,” said Wendy Salomon, managing director, corporate strategy at The Harris Poll. “In automotive and elsewhere, companies must seek new, unique sources of value that build on the recalibrations we’re seeing.”
Finally, even once the pandemic subsides, over half say having dealership sanitation measures in place both within each vehicle (55%) and throughout the building (54%) are must haves to help customers feel safe when visiting the dealership.