Nearly half of all buyers begin the search for their next used car unclear on the make and model they want, according to Auto Trader’s Buyer Behaviour Study undertaken by GfK1.
The research revealed that 48% were undecided compared with 52% of buyers who approached the process with a clear purchase intention.
When broken down by age and gender, the research suggests more women and young people need support to narrow down options. 32% of women said they had no idea of make and model at the outset, compared with 21% of men. Younger people were also more likely to start with a blank sheet of paper: 36% of people aged 17-24 did not know the make and model, compared with just one in four of the over 45s.
Auto Trader’s market research director Nick King said: “Today consumers make decisions online because it’s easy and they feel more in control. By the time they make the journey to a physical forecourt, most will have researched extensively: they will know exactly what car they want, how much they should be paying for it, and a lot about the retailer from which they wish to buy.
“But it’s also clear that many need support in taking their first steps. We have to make it as easy as possible for both the committed petrol head, but also the nervous novice, to narrow down choices at the start of their journey - and then connect them quickly with the right car and the right dealer.”
Auto Trader has recently taken steps to improve search filters on its site, making them more relevant and granular. But for less confident buyers, there’s a new search pathway that starts by asking about lifestyle needs. It assumes no expertise on the part of the searcher and begins with the premise that things like ‘four seats’ and ‘low mpg’ will be more helpful, than expecting a selection by brand, make or model. Side-by-side model comparisons are then presented on screen to support research and help narrow down choices.
Each year there are around seven million used car transactions and a further 2.4million new car sales. The research findings therefore suggest that more than 2.5million buyers could benefit from online search pathways that help them find the right car more easily.