Sophus3, a provider of digital intelligence data to automotive brands, reported that ten years ago the average car buyer visited six dealers before making a decision. Now, the average is less than two visits, largely due to the fact that their research shows over 90 percent of car purchasers used the Internet to research their purchase in advance, most using a mobile device.
Should you worry about your car debt? In 2016 alone, UK households borrowed a record £31.6bn to buy cars, a 12 per cent increase on the previous year, according to the Finance and Leasing Association. In fact, nine out of 10 private car buyers are now using low-cost leasing deals to fund their new car.
Current changes to marketing within the automotive industry are being led by the digital consumer. For car brands, this means understanding their consumers in the way online retailers already do. That behavioural shift to digital has already happened and marketers are investing increasing time and effort into expanding their knowledge of their online audience.
What Sophus3 has found is that while consumers are interested in going green, they are frustrated by the online experience they receive. For instance, some car maker are marketing electric as an ‘alternative’ or ‘lifestyle’ choice. However, Sophus3’s analysis shows that consumers considering an electric vehicle are now at a point of comparing petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric on a level playing field. They want to focus on running costs, monthly payments and ownership practicalities.
Scott Gairns, managing director, Sophus3, commented: “Based on the online car buyer research behaviour we see in the UK, Sophus3 believes that the ULEZ really puts the cart before the horse. There is demand now for EVs and we would advise that serious consideration is given to promoting the Norway model of a range of perks and incentives combined with aggressive EV targets.
Car Buyers turning to mobile to research new purchases. There were 1.09bn visits to car brand websites in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France in 2016, a 7 per cent increase on 2015. The average session length was 2 minutes, 51 seconds, with visitors looking at an average of four pages per visit.
Car buying online speeds up – fasten your seatbelts. They haven’t (yet) perfected how to reproduce the aroma of new leather interiors, but there is no doubt that taking the car showroom experience onto the internet is growing in popularity. Car buying online, after stalling a few years ago, is now heading into top gear.
Scott Gairns, Sophus3 managing director, said: “2018 will see a fundamental shift in attitudes towards electric vehicles, from politicians, manufacturers and consumers. “Understanding behavioural attitudes as consumers research, and increasingly buy, online will be key to leveraging all opportunities.”