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Consumers still turn to dealers first for expert car buying advice - survey

Britain Under The Bonnet Close Brothers report cover 2017

Car dealers are still the first port of call for drivers wanting expert advice on their next vehicle.

Findings from the ‘Britain Under the Bonnet’ report, produced by Close Brothers Motor Finance suggest that two in five (43%) motorists turned to a dealership to help them make the right decision about which car to purchase next.

The rise of technology is also reflected in the report, with the research finding drivers are increasingly turning to the internet for guidance: 40% of drivers now use websites such as Google, Bing and Auto Trader.

Almost a third (30%) talk to friends and family, while motor magazines are used by one in six (17%) to inform their next purchasing decision.

How drivers researched their latest vehicle before purchasing it

1.    Went to the dealership and asked for advice - 43%

2.    Searched online (e.g. Google , Bing or Auto Trader) - 40%

3.    Asked friends/family - 30%

4.    Read motor magazines (e.g. WhatCar?) - 17%

5.    Looked in the motor section in the newspaper - 12%

6.    Searched on auction websites (e.g. eBay) - 11%

7.    Referred to social media channels (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) - 4%

Those that went to a dealer for advice during the process spent an average of 21 days researching their purchase; those that used online outlets to research spent nearly double the amount of time (41 days) deciding on their car.

According to the report, more than two in five (44%) motorists purchased their last car from a new car dealership and just over a third of drivers (34%) went to a second-hand dealer.

Just over one in 10 (13%) went to a private seller.

The report also found that while new car dealers are more popular overall, this is not the case for younger people.

Nearly two in five (39%) 18-34 year olds used second-hand dealers, while just over a third (34%) used a new car dealership.

This trend is reversed for older drivers, with 34% of 35-54 year olds buying from second-hand dealers while 41% went to a new car dealership. More than half (54%) of over 55s went to a new car dealer compared to 31% who used a second-hand dealer.

James Broadhead, Close Brothers Motor Finance chief executive, said: “The way people buy cars is evolving, as the internet is making consumers more conscious of what they want. But the research makes it clear that people still look to dealers for advice and support, and there are real opportunities on offer to dealers who have the right insight into what their customers are looking for.

"The time that people save when searching for a car if they speak to a dealer is stark, and this is a statistic that dealers can use to prove the importance of speaking to someone who knows what they are doing. Clearly the one-to-one conversation is still of the utmost importance when it comes to buying a car.”

The Britain Under the Bonnet report looks at consumers’ attitudes and car buying behaviours – along with views from dealerships across the country – to give a comprehensive view of the UK’s automotive sphere in 2017. Please visit .

> Britain Under the Bonnet methodology: The figures in this report are based on Close Brothers Motor Finance’s own data, a telephone survey of 445 UK car dealers undertaken between September and October 2016, and a consumer survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, weighted to be nationally representative. Respondents included more than 1,200 car owners in the UK. The survey was conducted in October 2016 by Opinium. All statistics in the report, unless stated otherwise, come from the aforementioned sources.

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