SAN FRANCISCO — Millennials are not only interested in purchasing cars, they’re also cycling in-market more frequently due to changing life stages. This was just one of the findings from “Today’s Auto Shoppers: How They Research and Why Trust is So Essential in Winning Them Over,” a new study conducted by Jumpstart Automotive and Ipsos Connect.
According to the study, four in 10 shoppers buy a new car every three years, while nearly six out of 10 millennials pull the trigger on a new vehicle every three years. The study also showed that 74% of Millennials now take four weeks or less when shopping for a car, with 88% of them researching online throughout the entire process.
“The results of this study illustrate that people are similar in the way that they gather information. But there are both subtle and significant differences between demographics,” said Libby Murad-Patel, vice president of strategic insights and analytics for Jumpstart. “Our hope is that brands across the entire automotive spectrum use these insights to help elevate the shopping experience for all consumers.”
Technology, the study found, is popular across all demographics. However, the ability to seamlessly integrate smartphone apps and functions into the vehicle has become more important to car buyers than a vehicle’s custom tech features.
The only exception would be women, who influence 80% of all vehicle transactions and place a greater value on practical needs such as passenger seating, comfort, and safety. And although women are primarily new-car buyers, they show more willingness than men to consider a used vehicle if it means they’re going to get more for their money, according to the study.
Additionally, women tend to rely heavily on independent research and reviews. They are also more likely to consult Consumer Reports than any other group.
The study also found that Asians and Hispanic shoppers place a greater emphasis on brands or vehicles that are more popular or recognizable, as well as vehicles with alternative fuel options. Overall purchase price is important to Asian shoppers, but they show more willingness to increase their monthly payment if they feel the value is there.
Hispanic shoppers rank purchase price higher than monthly payment, but monthly payment is a higher consideration for them than any other group.
Additionally, Asian consumers have a higher affinity for luxury vehicles, according to the study, while Hispanic shoppers tend to purchase more new vehicles than used. The latter also tends to hold onto a vehicle and pass it down to a family member instead of trading it in, making trade-in offers less relevant to this group, the study concluded.
The study also found that quality/reliability has become more important than fuel economy across the board. Part of that could stem from the current recall-heavy environment, according to the study’s authors, as well as low gas prices.
When consumers begin their research, according to the study, the Top 3 must-haves in a brand or vehicle are good value at 77%, a reputation for being strong and reliable at 68%, and a reputation for excellent quality at 65%. When it comes time to buy, quality (34%), gas mileage (29%), and price point (28%) become the Top 3 key influencers for all shoppers.
“This study paints a vivid portrait of today’s auto shopper: informed, empowered, value-oriented, and brand-focused,” said Dr. Stephen Kraus, chief insights officer for Ipsos Connect and director of the study. “The research also underscores the crucial importance of the Internet, as 80% research online throughout the purchase process, not just as the purchase becomes imminent.”
The study was conducted by Ipsos Connect between December 2015 and March 2016, with 1,014 U.S. respondents interviewed online. Study participants met the following three criteria: adults aged 18-64, at least $30,000 in annual household income, and purchased a vehicle in the past year or intended to purchase a vehicle in the next six months.
To download the study, click here.