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Car manufacturers looking to influence consumers earlier in the buying cycle

Car manufacturers are looking to access buyers even earlier in their buying decision process online, according to

Manufacturers have recognised that the window of opportunity is reaching consumers before they have typically narrowed their choice down to 2-3 cars when they take a test drive.

Recent research from Auto Trader shows that 10% of consumers know what car they want when they start conducting research online.

In stark contrast, it is estimated that two thirds of consumers are ready to purchase a car when they visit a dealership for a test drive.

Historically, manufacturers and dealers have invested millions to drive brochure and test drives requests further down the cycle, However, a new trend is emerging, particularly amongst manufacturers, who are exploring ways to target consumers (coined the ‘hand raisers’) or (consideration buyers ) at the start of the buying cycle.

Chris Green, co-founder and director at, said: “Consumers are less brand loyal than they were a decade ago and their main considerations are MPG, finance deals and running costs.

“Brands like Hyundai and Kia have been heavily invested in reaching consumers at the start of their car buying journey to influence decisions at the purchase stage, in conjunction with the sponsorship of major events like the World Cup, to great effect. Now, we are seeing more and more manufacturers pioneering ways to influence the buying cycle, as they have come to realise that they can’t just rely on brand loyalty.”

Green said Dacia is a classic example of best practice for targeting ‘consideration buyers’ months before a range launch.

He said: “Dacia’s strategy was to collect name and email address and collate them into a digital community of potential buyers, so that they could target them just before launch.

“Dacia offered consumers test drives which resulted in much needed sales.”

Read AM's UK car dealer guide to the online customer journey.


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