We surveyed over 3000 people between the ages of 25 and 55 to understand how interest in purchasing a vehicle for this core automotive buying audience has changed due to the coronavirus outbreak. While there are some significant shifts particularly in terms of delay, the dealership-based purchase process is extremely robust and more trusted than alternate channels to complete a purchase during this crisis.

Overall, purchasing patterns for this key group have changed less than expected in key areas.

  • There has been no meaningful shift from new car shopping to used car shopping.
  • Shoppers of new and late model used have become less focused on upgrading and more focused on incentives and deals, as well as health and safety.
  • The biggest impact of the crisis is slowing down timing of their planned car purchase.
  • Online buying interest rising but is still a very small segment of buyers.
  • Despite COVID-19 fears, eighty-five percent of consumers are comfortable buying through the traditional in store process, provided that enhanced safety precautions are taken.
  • Consumers are more confident buying from a local dealer than from an online vendor.

See all of the data and details below or in the report. While the current environment is full of challenges, the opportunity for local traditional dealerships remains large. 

Intent to purchase across new and used did not shift significantly.

Ninety-seven percent of people in the market prior to the coronavirus outbreak, are still in market.

Shoppers have become less focused on upgrading and more focused on incentives and deals.

“For health and safety reasons” grew but remained small with less than one in ten people indicating health and safety as a primary motivation. Other top reasons remained stable.

The most pronounced change in buying behavior is delaying purchase.

A full sixty-nine percent of people indicating they would delay purchase, most by three to six months.

Online buying interest rising but is still a very small segment of buyers.

Eighty-four percent of new car shoppers/Eighty-seven percent of used car shoppers plan to visit a dealership to check out and/or test drive the car before buying instead of buying online without visiting the dealership.

People who intended to buy used vehicles were more likely to contact someone at the dealership to get more information about the vehicle prior to coming into the dealership. People who intended to buy new vehicles were more comfortable going without a test drive than used vehicle purchasers. 

Despite COVID-19 fears, eighty-five percent of consumers are comfortable provided that enhanced safety precautions are taken.

Most are comfortable without modifications.  Across this group over ninety percent were remaining in the dealership through taking delivery of the vehicle.

 

Local dealerships are more trusted on coronavirus safety.

Local dealerships inspired more confidence than either an online vendor like Carvana or a national chain like CarMax, with sixty-three percent of people indicating they were very confident or confident in a local car dealership’s social distancing and coronavirus safety procedures, compared to forty-six percent for those other purchase channels.

View the full report>>

It is not uncommon to see when times are more turbulent that trusted brands and traditional options are valued more. As dealerships move forward in this challenging environment, it is excellent to see that the hard work that dealerships have done in providing a safe environment is being recognized by people in market actively pursuing a purchase and can help to drive the rebound in automotive purchases.

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For further reading, we also detailed the areas where survey results varied significantly by region from the national results. A summary of the regional differences can be found here.