Making Science

Mobiles have become an important part of the car buying journey, but consumers still prefer to buy in-person: report

Mobile Marketing - Member Content


For many people, the car buying experience has not changed much in the past several years. Consumers become familiar with new models through commercials, do some online research if they are interested, and then head to some dealerships before making a final decision. Meanwhile, consumers are becoming more dependent on their mobile devices to make purchases of all types. Shopping for everyday items on phones has been normalized for years but consumers are just starting to buy big-ticket items online, including cars. As usage continues to increase, smartphones have become an important part of the car buying process.

AdColony conducted the Car Buying Survey to analyze the decision-making of consumers in the UK. Respondents were asked about how much mobile devices are used when shopping for a car, the effectiveness of auto ads, and the effects of COVID-19 on car buying plans.

Highlights from the Study:

Consumers use a mix of devices when looking to purchase or lease a car — Most respondents (40 per cent) use a mix of their smartphone, computer, and tablet when looking to buy a car. 20 per cent said they use their smartphone the most.

Many consumers believe using a smartphone is essential when buying a car — Almost 40 per cent of car buyers said it is very important or important to have their smartphone with them while shopping for a car. More than half of respondents say they use their smartphones to research prices or research models and specs.

Researching cars online often leads to a trip to the dealership — A majority of respondents (63 per cent) said they are very likely or likely to visit a dealership after researching cars online. Marketers should make sure to tie-in a dealer locator to their ads or website.

Car buyers still favor buying in-person at a dealership — Consumers were asked if they had ever bought a car online and had it delivered to their home using a service. Only 10 per cent have said they had used a service like this, 14 per cent said they would be interested. Auto companies with these services need to gain more awareness and credibility to sway UK consumers.

Auto ads and mobile videos are effective — Car buyers were asked about how they consider and interact with auto ads. Almost half of respondents (45 per cent) said they consider relevant auto ads when shopping for a car. Additionally, 55 per cent said they would consider watching and interacting with a mobile video to explore models and features.

Car buying plans changed for some consumers due to COVID-19 — While many consumers’ plans have not changed, many of them are now interested in buying cars online to avoid visiting dealerships. Some people cite financial issues as the reasons they have changed plans including less money for a down payment and financing needs have changed.

Download the AdColony’s Car Buying Survey Infographic here.