Kicking the Tires: The Automotive Path to Purchase

From the desk of Alice Morgan

What We Did

In the Summer of 2014, Doyle Research and DrivingSales, an automotive dealership consulting and training company, conducted a comprehensive research program to diagnose the automotive path to purchase and enhance the dealership experience.   We used cutting-edge GPS technology to intercept auto shoppers, at the dealership, to get authentic in the moment insights.   In addition, video diaries, ethnographies, dealership shopalongs and webcam interviews were all utilized to uncover the pivotal dealership communication touchpoints at each stage of the buying process.   An online quantitative survey was then conducted with 1,300 new vehicle purchasers.

What We Found

Many new vehicle shoppers find the car-purchasing experience stressful and unpleasant. Over half indicated they would buy new cars more frequently if it weren’t such a difficult, intimidating and unpleasant process.

Game Changers

Dealerships have gotten slightly better over the years. The problem is, other verticals have gotten substantially better. Other categories provide unfiltered reviews, pricing transparency and a low-pressure retail environment. Car dealerships don’t.

Poor Dealership Websites

They’re cluttered, confusing, hard to navigate, and shoppers don’t trust the information provided. Over half of new car shoppers don’t visit dealership websites at all. Shoppers rely on third party sites instead.

Outdated Communication Practices

Nowadays people don’t want to talk to their nearest and dearest, let alone to a car salesperson. Dealership contact forms requiring phone numbers and sales strategies emphasizing personal contact backfire, particularly among Millennials.

Too Little, Too Late

The result of all these barriers is that car shoppers avoid interacting with the dealership until very late in the process. When they do visit they often have a poor experience with a salesperson they just met and don’t trust.

Ripe for Disruption

The system is broken due to lack of trust and changed expectations. Car dealerships need to rethink engagement, provide greater transparency, and forge connections with new car shoppers earlier in the process. Old school car dealerships are ripe for disruption. If they don’t change to meet the needs of today’s car shoppers, they will be replaced.

Want to learn more? Doyle is presenting this research next month at IIeX in Atlanta. Hope to see you there!

 

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