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44% of over-55s still steer clear of online research, survey finds

Alastair Campbell, Carsnip

Millennials and Gen Z customers are more than twice as likely to use an online car search when buying a new car than the over-50s, a new census of car buyers claims.

The 2016 Car Buyers’ Census, compiled from an online YouGov poll by the search engine Carsnip, revealed a growing ‘generation gap’ among drivers, with many younger people embracing new technologies and peer-reviews to make the task of purchasing a car easier than ever.

Carsnip has published its findings as it launches its Founder Dealer program, a scheme which aims to get 500 dealers to test drive its new analytics platform.

Three quarters of the 2,093 respondents to the census said they now trusted experts, car forums or word of mouth over the classified ad sites when buying a car, while 18-24 year olds were less than half as likely as over-55s to visit a dealer in person.

Carsnip chief executive Alastair Campbell said: “It’s a privilege to launch this Buyers’ Census which includes the views of so many experts from the car industry.

“We commissioned the survey because we wanted to inform car dealers and help them understand how the behaviour of their customers’ is changing.

“Big data is one thing, but it needs to be combined with recommendations if it’s to make a big difference. We hope this Census can do both, and provide an insight into car buying habits in 2016.”

YouGov’s poll asked people a number of questions, including whether they had used traditional car sites like Auto Trader or Motors the last time they bought a car.

More than two in five (44%) over-55s said they had not, compared to 22% of 18-45 year olds. Nationally, the figure stood at 30%.

When asked which source of advice they valued most, 39% of 18-24 year olds said ‘word of mouth’, compared to 25% of over-55s.

Ben Elliot, group CRM and marketing manager, Knights BMW, said: “Customers have always looked to their social networks for advice when thinking of buying a car, the difference now though is that social media and the internet has made it easier than ever for people to seek out knowledge from a range of different places.

"We’re certainly seeing they have done their research, with our staff now sought out as the experts.”

Dan Freedman, director of motor development, Direct Line Group, said: “These results are the strongest indication yet that a generational change in buying habits is taking place among UK car buyers.”                                                 

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