Eight out of 10 consumers are not happy with the car they buy as the search and selection process is typically so complex and confusing they end up compromising on their choice.
Manufacturers and retailers need to simplify the shopping process, offering reassurance on a buyer’s choice continuously throughout the journey, generating trust at every step.
Carmakers’ advertising needs to become more personal, based on a greater understanding of consumer needs and dealers need to appreciate the lifestyle the new car will become part of, and less concerned about sales targets.
These conclusions come off the back of an Auto Trader study of 40 households new and used car buying experience, with their views recorded – often on video – via an app. Another 2,000 people gave their opinions via Auto Trader’s website.
Ian Plummer (pictured), manufacturing and agency director, said: “The feeling of being overwhelmed by choice leads to a strong desire for reassurance to alleviate the nagging doubt there was something they haven’t considered. This uncertainty is amplified through the inherent lack of trust in the industry.”
He said manufacturers and dealers need to “drive trust and transparency into the sector”.
“This can be achieved through offering a fully transparent customer experience, facilitated by unbiased, independent reviews, videos and strong imagery, coupled with a choice of cars in tune with the local market, transparently and accurately priced.”
Key findings in Auto Traders’ The Car Buyers Report:
- 60% of car buyers gave up their search for the perfect car and made a purchase out of exhaustion
- 75% of 17-to-24-year-olds got ‘tired of looking around’
- 85% of people expect the car buying process to be hard
- At the final, car buying stage, most people have three cars on their choice list
- One in five car buyers are worried about encountering unexpected jargon or being confronted by too many deals
- One exhausted shopper says on video: “I just wish someone woud bring three cars to my front door that I could choose from.”
“Far from being a funnel, with the buyer looking at many cars before selecting just one, the complexity of the process and the lack of trust can typically see the consumer reverse decisions at any stage in the journey,” said Plummer.
“It’s more like a game of snakes and ladders, with negative experiences leaving the consumer back several steps – back where they started.”
He advised manufacturers and dealers to focus their advertising, not on a traditional brand story, but on personalised messages that fit in with buyers’ lifestyles: “Key to this is understanding your target audience by thinking outside of the industry silos, through using customer data more effectively and at the right time, particularly in the showroom.
"Vehicle selection should not necessarily be driven by make then model.”
Consumer video - part one
Consumer feedback video - part two
Auto Trader's The Car Buyer Reports' key findings