Dealers are being advised to ensure a ‘two-pronged’ approach to selling cars to ensure all age groups are at ease with the process, in both the showrooms and online.
The message comes from sales generation specialists Buyacar.co.uk which asked 500 consumers of their car buying likes and dislikes.
Austin Collins (pictured), who co-founded Buyacar.co.uk as an online marketplace for dealers, said: “Older people appear to be slightly more strongly attached to the traditional motor dealer than younger people and also more confident with the traditional face-to-face way of buying cars.
“But almost half of the under-55s in our survey said they do not feel confident in that scenario.
“So it’s no surprise that confidence in the alternative car purchase process of buying online is growing more quickly among those people.
“All this suggests that a two-pronged approach for motor retailers will work best for dealers.
“That means providing great facilities to inspect the product but also making stock available online on a ‘buy it now’ basis is the best way for dealers to capture all of the available customers out there most effectively.”
Discomfort with the traditional car buying process is reported by almost half of all motorists under the age of 55.
In contrast, confidence in the idea of buying cars online is growing fastest among the same group.
Older people are less daunted when buying from dealers in the traditional way and are much more likely than those under 55 to describe themselves as comfortable negotiators.
Just 57% of people under 55 describe themselves as happy, confident customers in the dealer environment.
At 62%, more older people described themselves as confident to buy cars in the traditional way.
And a massive 85% of older people believe they are comfortable negotiators, compared with just 55% of younger people.
Although there is growing comfort across the board with the concept of buying new or used cars online, it is more marked among younger people.
This is illustrated by 43.6% of consumers under 55 saying they are more confident now with the concept of buying cars online and unseen than they used to be.
Among older people the figure is 20.7%.
Overall, 22.5% of under-55s say they would now be happy to buy a car online without seeing it first – slightly ahead of those aged 55+, where the figure is 19.8%.
Buyacar.co.uk customers were not targeted by the research, so the results are not weighted to favour users of the business.
The slightly stronger attachment to traditional dealers among older people is underscored by other insights from the survey into the consumers’ car research process.
Older people are more likely to visit dealers during their research than younger people.
Of those aged 55 and over, 73% will visit dealerships in the pre-purchase phase compared with 66% of people under 55.
Over-55s are also less likely to undertake extensive online research too, with 63% reporting it as a main source of information compared with 77% of younger people.
Older people also reported themselves as less influenced by opinions published in traditional motoring magazines than younger people.
Direct contact with motor dealers during the purchase process is also much more likely to be sought by the 55s and over.
Just over 87% of older car buyers say dealer contact is important, while for people under 55 the figure is 82%.