Digital Research Matters in Automotive Shopping

Today’s consumer is more connected then ever with more access to, and deeper connection with, automotive content and brands. Not only do consumers have more devices to choose from, but they own more devices than ever before! According to a Neilson Report, American’s on average own four digital devices and engages with media content over 60 hours per week. When we look at the stats, 72% of automotive research involves cross shopping between different digital devices. This includes in-market shoppers who are using connected devices, like mobile, to perform research and competitive shopping activities. As digital research has increased, car shoppers are in-market fewer months — 82% are in-market 3 months or less. The research process for buying a vehicle often begins online and ends at the dealership. The research process often kicks off with consumer advertising, where 3 out of 5 of the top ad formats persuading car shopping activities are digital. Over the process, there is an average of 24 research touch points on the path to purchasing a vehicle, with mobile and video driving this activity. Shoppers can research their new and used car purchases before going to the dealer, and with some mobile apps, even buy a used car.

Mobile Car Shopping

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 4.29.34 PMIn-market research and comparison searches on mobile devices has more than tripled since 2011 making mobile an important ad format for auto dealerships. According to JD Power, 48 percent of vehicle buyers that shop on a mobile device use their smartphone while at the dealership, primarily to access vehicle pricing as well as model information, inventory searches, and special offers and incentives.
When looking to buy a car, shoppers turn to mobile for a variety of reasons. The top 5 research activities on mobile are to view cars/trucks, call a dealer, read reviews, view current offers, and locate a dealer. Car shoppers are also using mobile for the same comparison activities. There are two primary actions in-market mobile shoppers do once they are on the lot; comparison/research and pricing activities. Comparison/research activities include looking at reviews, checking out a specific model, or reaching out to a family or friend for advice. If the car shopper is ready to buy they may search for pricing information, hours and contact information of a dealership, or researching discounts or other offers.

Video to Reach Car Shoppers

The amount of time consumers are watching car videos is rising year over year; video adds a human quality of the driving experience to the car brand. Things like infotainment systems, vehicle handling and emerging technology are easier and sometimes more exciting to illustrate with video. Nearly 84% of car shoppers said they would watch a video on their device next time they shop for a car. Of all the ad formats video is number one for driving purchase consideration amongst car shoppers. Videos help to introduce brands/new brands, help to learn more about specific cars/trucks, and to narrow down the purchase decision. According to Google Think Insights, 49% of car shoppers visited an auto dealership after watching a car/truck video!

In Summary

There is no doubt that digital research is driving automotive purchase decisions. With constant connectivity, shopping is 24/7. Whether making an everyday purchase or researching larger ticket items like cars and trucks, mobile is a critical platform for consumers. So how should this information impact your advertising if you are an automotive dealer? Here’s your dealership marketing checklist for making sure mobile and video are part of the mix:

  • Your website should have a responsive design for easy mobile access.
  • Incorporate more video into your site, display ads and social media.

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