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Ladies beat smokers in race to sell used cars

Forget optional extras such as air conditioning and metallic paint, the real deal makers for used car buyers can be classed as ‘terms of motoring endearance’.

These make used car buyers more likely to close the deal and hand over the full asking price to retailers who use them in their classified ads, according to new research carried out by eBay’s dealer classifieds service

The research reveals the online ‘pull’ factors and descriptions that make one car and dealer more attractive to buy from than another, in the eyes of consumers.

The most popular ‘terms of endearment’ are those that reassure the buyer that the car’s previous owners loved and cherished it. Phrases that deliver real currency include ‘one lady driver’, ‘non-smoking owner’ and ‘no pets’ which ranked high in a list of top 10 most popular descriptions most likely to attract a buyer to purchase a used car. They are rated more important than equipment options, such as ABS.

The top 10 descriptions in a dealer’s classified listing that would encourage buyers to purchase are:

  • Non-smoking owner, no pets
  • Only used as a second car
  • One lady owner from new
  • Full-service history including all bills and MoTs
  • Only used locally
  • Supplied and serviced by us from new
  • Always garaged
  • Carpet mats and boot liner from new
  • Never seen a spray gun
  • …and the more photos the better, especially of the interior

    Emma Parfitt, trade manager at, says: “The research reveals some fascinating insights into the exact terms and descriptions that pull potential buyers deeper into the sales process.

    “It’s clear that qualitative factors such as ‘non-smoking owner’ are often more appealing and differentiating in a crowded environment than conventional product features such as ‘air conditioning’. Smart dealers will learn from this and weave these terms into their classified ads to ensure their listing has greater impact and stands out from the crowd.”

    Key outtakes from eBay’s qualitative research sessions give an insight into what consumers really see when they read a dealer classified ad:

  • “If a car’s likely to stink of smoke or pets I’d want a grand off the price to make it attractive.”

  • “What would I pay for the knowledge that the car’s been looked after properly and it’s going to be reliable? It’s got to be worth 10-20% of the price. That’s what you value a second hand car on - its history. A car can be worthless after six months if it’s been abused or a great car after 10 years if it’s been looked after.”

  • “A car you know the history of is worth hundreds more than a car you don’t.”

  • “When I’m flicking through the ads I’m looking for that car that says ‘I’ve been loved’. I’m not looking for ABS, I’m looking for ‘driven by an old biddy who washed it more than she drove it’.”

  • “If I’m convinced it’s the one I want and I like the person that’s selling it, I won’t haggle as hard.”

    eBay’s research was conducted in April 2007, through a series of four in-depth consumer focus groups across the UK.

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