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November 30, 2015

Myth Busting the Car Buyer of the Future

Myth_Busting_the_Car_Buyer_of_the_Future-1_autotrader_roweWe met up with Jared Rowe, president of Autotrader, on their study, "Car Buyer of the Future."

This survey polled more than 4,000 shoppers and buyers to get a grasp of future consumer behavior. "Two of the most influential groups are millennials and women," offered Rowe.

Myth_Busting_the_Car_Buyer_of_the_Future-2_autotrader_infographic_mythsCar Buying Myth #1: Dealers are defunct

The study found that 84 percent of consumers prefer to buy their vehicles in person. More than 40 percent see the dealership as a place to learn. The fact is, buyers want to confirm the information they sourced online is correct, and be educated about specials, offers, warranty, and service.


Car Buying Myth #2: Women are afraid of dealers

Strong majorities, 85 percent, of females prefer to buy in person, versus 15 percent of females who want to purchase online. "We talk about the retail process as not being friendly. However, 40 percent of car purchases were sold to females last year and 80 percent were influenced by females," remarked Rowe.

According to, the average woman visits 30 percent more dealerships than men when car buying. Dealers that have a high "shopping" score convert, on average, 15 percent more browsers to buyers. Women perceive these stores as more trustworthy and comfortable places to do business with and go there first.

While on this topic, keep in mind that young millennials (those born 1980 to early 2000s) are also more likely to rely on a dealership, with statistics showing 48 percent of young millennials versus 40 percent of older millennials prefer shopping at a dealership rather than purchase online. And, regardless of sex or age, the average car consumer spends 16.7 hours shopping for what to buy and where to purchase it.

Car Buying Myth #3: Consumers don't want to negotiate

More than 55 percent of consumers want to make a deal. Two of the most influential groups -- millennials (62 percent) and females (59 percent) -- prefer negotiating to paying flat rates.

"Flat rate pricing is not something consumers are willing to accept; they don't trust it," said Rowe.


Car Buying Myth #4: Consumers care more about the price than the dealership

Experience counts first. Of the people polled, 54 percent say they would buy from a dealership that offered a better experience over hunting for the lowest price. Additionally, 73 percent are willing to drive farther for a great salesperson, while 65 percent are willing to drive farther to get the lowest price.

"This shows that the process is valuable," says Rowe.


Myth_Busting_the_Car_Buyer_of_the_Future-3__autotrader_infographic_studyTrends and Changes:

Research has evolved across multiple devices and platforms: 42 percent of car shoppers use multiple devices, up from 23 percent in 2013 and 32 percent in 2014. By 2020, 80 percent of the consumers will use multiple devices.

Test drives are still important: 88 percent of consumers would not purchase a car without test-driving it. "That's fascinating that they still want to touch and drive it," noted Rowe.

Pressure is not popular: 67 percent of people polled do not like having pressure while test-driving.

Deal structuring will begin online: "It's about gaining some level of certainty of what it will look like when I get there," said Rowe.

Financing paperwork will begin online: 72 percent find the concept of doing paperwork online appealing, saying it saves time and removes pressure.

Time is of the essence: Satisfaction declines after 90 minutes at the dealership. The average time consumers spend in finance and leasing is 61 minutes or two-thirds of the ideal time they want to spend at a dealership overall. The take?  Doing more online is a big time saver.

How does this research relate to dealers and manufacturers?

Nearly 72 percent of consumers say they would visit dealerships more often if the buying process was improved. More than 50 percent of consumers say they would buy a vehicle more often if the buying process were improved.

More than 65 percent of consumers say they would be more likely to buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience.


It's not rocket science to keep people's interest in car buying. We need to acknowledge the savvy buyer by providing more targeted and pertinent information online, create dealerships that make the buying process easier and time more efficient, and offer car-buying information across a variety of platforms. And despite how far we've come technologically; consumers still want hands-on experience, knowledgeable salespeople and a comfortable environment to shop.

Holly_Reich-headshotby Holly Reich for Motor Matters

HOLLY REICH has been writing about automotive and travel since 1982. She has reported on the automotive industry for television and radio broadcast stations including; Fox News, SPEED, Car TV and Autolab. Reich has contributed to publications such as RIDES,,, Elite Traveler,, The New York Daily News and The Washington Post. Holly is based in New York City.


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