Study: Pandemic Kicks Auto Shopping Into Digital Overdrive - AutoSuccessOnline
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Study: Pandemic Kicks Auto Shopping Into Digital Overdrive

Adtaxi—one of the nation’s fastest-growing digital marketing agencies—announced the results of its Automotive Innovation and Consumer Trends study. With the pandemic significantly boosting both automotive demand and reliance on digital tools, the study examines how consumer habits are adapting, and consequences for the future of the industry. 

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“For years we’ve tracked the steady migration of auto shoppers toward digital tools. What the pandemic really did was super-charge that trajectory, with digital now spearheading the shopping process,” said Murry Woronoff, National Director of Research, Adtaxi. “There’s no longer any question that targeted and robust digital strategies are fundamental for the automotive industry’s success, simply because you need to meet the right shoppers where they are.”

The study’s key findings include:

  • Purchasing Goes Remote: 38% of all respondents – but 49% of auto shoppers – said that thanks to digital tools, they are comfortable making a major purchase like a new/leased car without ever meeting an in-person sales representative. Broken out by age, 53% of auto shoppers 18-29 are comfortable, 60% of those 30-44, 46% of those 45-60, and 24% of those over 60 are comfortable skipping an in-person sales rep.  
  • Preferred Channels: When asked what channel(s) they prefer to stay informed about new/leased vehicle offerings, over one third (39%) of all respondents said Internet. Among auto shoppers, that number climbs to well over half – 61%, with 45% specifically drawn to dealer and/or auto trade websites. 
  • First Move: When asked what they will do first the next time they shop for a new/leased vehicle, 57% of auto shoppers will take their first step digitally: by visiting a website, browsing the internet, or sending an email. 39% will reach out directly to the dealership (call, text, website, or email) and 30% will step foot on a dealership lot as their first move. 
  • Consumer Education & EV Holdouts: Among respondents who have not purchased an electric vehicle, and have no plans to, the #1 reason was cost (27%). The second most common response was a lack of charging stations (22%), followed by a preference for gas-powered vehicles (15%). With the price of EVs steadily dropping and rebates available, this data indicates a significant lack of consumer education by dealers. 
  • Subscription Service: 51% of all respondents indicated interest in a vehicle subscription model – jumping to 66% for auto shoppers. Among interested auto shoppers, 51% would pay no more than $500 per month for this service, and 37% would pay $600-900 per month. 9% would spend $1,000 per month or more – making this the smallest, but also the most likely, target. 

“This study provided several key findings,” continued Woronoff. “Given shoppers’ embrace of digital tools, post-pandemic we expect growth in ‘Shop on lot/Buy online’ behavior for new vehicle sales. Respondents’ preferred channels also indicate the specific power of dealers’ digital efforts. The lack of education about innovations and offerings can be solved by dealers investing in smart and targeted digital communications.” 

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