Guide to Understanding Today’s Auto Shoppers


People usually take months to shop for cars, which presents a unique challenge and an opportunity for marketers and auto dealers.

Given the expense and overall weight associated with a new-car purchase or lease, the shopper’s decision-making process represents a fine blend of rationality and subconscious motivation.

So it is vital for automakers and dealers to not only know where to find people currently shopping for a car, physically and digitally, but also to be able to speak wisely to the underlying values that fuel these important purchases.

To better illuminate relevant audience insights for automotive marketers, Resonate tapped into its consumer intelligence platform to uncover the motivations, values, lifestyles and media habits of people who are likely to buy or lease a car in the next 12 months.

The resulting audience profile revealed a dynamic group of people whose desire for self-fulfillment and lust for life are leading them to seek automotive purchases that align with these deep-seeded values.

To call people who are in the market for a car “active” would be an understatement. Their desire to be on the go is reflected in both their top hobbies (visiting spas and resorts, going to the movies and watching pro sports live) and daily routines, which place a high value on athletic accomplishments and gym memberships.

These hobbies and routines, all rooted in the physical world, suggest marketers should build bridges between their real-world activities and their digital interactions.

When it comes to the top apps used by auto shoppers, it’s not surprising that their usage mirrors their hobbies and daily routines. Business tools and productivity apps are tied with travel apps when it comes to commanding the most attention from these individuals. Other top app categories include entertainment, lifestyle, sports, finance, food and drink.

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While the average auto shopper strongly values physical activity and social engagement, they’re also deeply embedded in the digital space, where they leverage content and platforms to facilitate their energetic and self-driven lifestyles.

More than 60% in the market for a car are spending more than 20 hours online each week, with nearly a quarter of them spending more than 40 hours online.

Auto marketers might be surprised to find that the in-market auto shopper’s most-frequented social networks are not Facebook or Twitter, but rather Reddit, Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn.

This proclivity makes sense, however, in the context of this group’s top personal values and psychological drivers. Self-fulfillment, taking care of one’s family, learning and knowledge are core personal values that motivate this audience. The aforementioned social networks are core to feeding these principles, not to mention their desires for social and professional achievement and overall excitement in life.

From a media perspective, auto shoppers represent an eclectic bunch, with their top-watched TV networks and most-read magazines ranging from the informative to the entertaining. In terms of TV shows, this audience favors distraction and humor – as well as viewing on personal devices such as tablets and phones.

The time it takes people to decide which vehicle to buy requires auto brands to take a meaningful, story-driven approach to connecting with these valued consumers over time.

By better understanding their online and offline habits as well as the underlying values and motivations that drive them, companies can begin to craft a consumer journey that aligns with this ever-important path to purchase.

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Dave Jeyes is the senior product manager for Resonate, a company with a consumer-intelligence platform designed to build customer relationships.



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