Ad-​ology Study Shows Sharp Decline in Used Vehicle Purchase Plans

According to the new Ad-​ology Auto Shoppers Forecast, 15.6% of U.S. consumers plan to purchase a used vehicle in the next 12 months. That’s a 55% decrease from May 2011. By contrast, an accompanying Ad-​ology study revealed the number of people in the market for new vehicles increased 64% from May 2011.

Aging vehicles and perceived stability in the U.S. economy are leading many consumers to shop for new vehicles rather than used,” says C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-​ology Research. “Some of these potential buyers may encounter sticker shock and credit difficulties, however, and choose to purchase a pre-​owned vehicle instead,” Smith says.Used-AllMedia-Top10

More than half of used vehicle shoppers – 58.7% – are replacing a car or truck they have had for 10 years or longer. Nearly 30% say that a problem with their current vehicle is the catalyst for their decision to purchase another car or truck.

For the second consecutive year, Ford is the brand that most used car/​truck shoppers are considering, but Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Kia, and Hyundai show double-​digit increases in brand consideration compared to May 2011. Jeep and Subaru both show a big decline as brands being considered.

Beyond the test drive, 82.6% of these consumers say that their spouse or significant other is the most important source of information. Dealer websites and salespeople are more influential to used vehicle shoppers than their own parents, siblings, and friends.

Used vehicle shoppers also rely heavily on standard guides as a decision-​making aid: 81.1% use Kelley Blue Book, 78.8% consult Consumer Reports, and 74.1% look at data from CarFax.

Nearly four in ten of those in the market for a used vehicle say they’ve taken action – clicking, searching, calling, visiting the dealer or their website – within 30 days of viewing television advertising,” Smith says. “However, 64.1% say they think negatively of used vehicle dealers whose commercials are too loud.”

Interactive marketing continues to be an integral part of the used vehicle buying process. Fifty-​four percent of used vehicle shoppers say that online interaction with a brand or dealership, such as email, blogs or social media, increases the likelihood of future purchase.

Compared to 2011, smartphone usage has increased 40.9% among potential used vehicle shoppers, and usage directly tied to the buying process has also grown dramatically.

  • 47.1% of used vehicle shoppers have used their smartphone to take a photo of a vehicle they are considering (up 1.1% from 2011)
  • 26.4% used their smartphones to search for nearby dealers (up 30%)
  • 25.5% have watched a video of a vehicle they are considering (up 20.3%)
  • 21.6% have snapped a QR code to learn more about a vehicle (up 154.1%)

The 76-​page 2012–2013 Auto Shoppers Forecast for used vehicles is currently available for $95 through the Research Store at Ad​-ology​.com.


Ad-​ology Research focuses on the specific demographic, psychographic, geographic, or vertical market segments most likely to be your best customers and how to Advertise Smarter to them. Over 2,000 advertising agencies, media companies, and corporate marketing departments use Ad-​ology Research across North America.

Ad-​ology also provides a free compilation of marketing-​related forecasts at MarketingForecast​.com, the Marketing Forecast monthly video podcast on iTunes and YouTube, and the Marketing Forecast smartphone app for Apple iPhone, iPad, and Google Android devices.

Ad-​ology Research was created as a division of Sales Development Services (SDS), Inc. in December 2005. Ad-ology's parent company is based in Westerville, Ohio and was founded in October 1989. Ad-​ology is a registered trademark of SDS.


This annual study is independently conducted solely by Ad-​ology Research without funding from any third parties. Ad-​ology Research surveyed an online panel of 4,004 U.S. adults in May 2012. The margin of error is +/​- 2.04%.