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4 Ways Car Buyers Have Changed Since 2003

Car Buyers Have Changed
Article Highlights:

  • Today's car buyer is considerably different than that of 10 years ago.
  • Online shoppers visit fewer dealerships before deciding on a vehicle.

While much of the media’s attention has been focused on the emerging buying power and shopping expectations of Gen Y, today’s car buyers – regardless of generation – are considerably different than those of 10 years ago.

What’s different?

They’re Connected to Information

Nearly eight of 10 consumers use the Web to research a vehicle online.1 And, with smart phone shipments now outpacing feature phone shipments, those same consumers are more and more likely to be doing so from a mobile phone.2

Add to that the proliferation of social networking sites – where more online automobile purchase discussions are occurring – and it becomes apparent dealers will face increasing pressure to satisfy consumers’ hunger for instant information during every encounter with the dealership.

They’re Accustomed to Transparency in Price and Service

For nearly every type of product, consumers can compare products and prices quickly and simply online. If consumers want more information about a product, it’s there at the click of a mouse. That same desire for retail transparency is another expectation consumers are bringing to the car-buying experience.

They Are More Discerning About Where They Shop

Third, as an outcome of being more empowered by faster access to more information, all consumers, including car buyers, are more discerning about which stores they shop and from which stores to make a final purchase. Online car shoppers tend to cast a wider net in researching vehicle brands and dealerships on the Internet than traditional car shoppers.3

However, online car shoppers also tend to visit fewer dealerships, an average of just under two stores, once they’ve selected a vehicle to buy.4

They Expect Their In-store Experience to Mirror Their Online Experience

Consumers have greater expectations for their in-store experience to mirror their online experience not only in terms of ease of use and transparency, but also in the consistency of the information.

In other words, car buyers often form their perception of a dealership’s overall credibility based on whether the dealership’s employees are providing information consistent with the information gathered over the Web or from other sources.

A decade ago, consumers would have accepted an unpleasant dealership experience. Today, consumers no longer want – and increasingly will no longer accept – the experience of buying and servicing a car the way it has been done in the past.

To learn how Reynolds is changing the automotive retailing experience, please click here.


1J.D. Power & Associates
3J.D. Power & Associates
4Google Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)

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Former Vice President of Product Planning, Reynolds and Reynolds

Jon Strawsburg is the former vice president of Product Planning for Reynolds and Reynolds. Named to this position in January 2007, Strawsburg is responsible for product planning for Reynolds Retail Management System.

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