The Car-​Shopping Process From Moment to Moment

BY Courtney Huckabay

"Mobile has changed the auto purchase journey," Think with Google reports. "From researching brands while on a lunch break to comparing prices on the dealership lot, mobile has an impact every step of the way." Here Google shows examples of how real people behave in the five key auto micro-​moments and what it means for automotive brands and dealerships.

Which-​Car-​Is-​Best Moments

"Did you know that six out of 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure which car to buy?" Think with Google asks. "But consumers often turn to mobile at the start of their purchase journey to discover new brands or help narrow down their choices. Mobile which-​car-​is-​best search paths includes review site comparisons and visits to two manufacturer's websites. For Stacy—and other consumers like her—the brands that are there in these moments at the beginning of the car buying journey are the ones likely to become a part of the final consideration set when it comes time to buy."

Auto dealers can be there in the mobile moments for Potential Vehicle Lessees. They should note that the most recent AudienceSCAN survey found 51.3% of Potential Vehicle Lessees use Android smartphones.

Is-​It-​Right-​For-​Me Moments

"For many auto shoppers, the dealership has moved online. Consumers lead busy lives, so they are increasingly turning to mobile to perform preliminary auto research—to find out if a vehicle will suit their lifestyle and needs without having to visit the lot. In fact, these days, the average car shopper makes just two visits to dealerships."

"We see Glori at the pool waiting for her child to finish a swim class. She uses her smartphone to research vehicle features—which consumers traditionally used to go to the dealership to do. If you want to reach people like Glori, make sure your mobile site is optimized so shoppers can continue their research and easily find the answers they are looking for when they have a few spare moments."

And mobile advertising couldn't hurt either. According to recent AudienceSCAN data, 44.5% of Potential Vehicle Lessees took action after receiving mobile smartphone app ads or text message ads in the past month.

Can-​I-​Afford-​It Moments

"There are very few consumers out there who are able to buy a car without considering the financial consequences, and for this large majority mobile is their new BFF. For today's auto shopper, 70% of searches for car MSRP and list prices are done on mobile."

"We can see that in one mobile can-​I-​afford-​it search path, a shopper investigated multiple review sites and would have been exposed to many brands. What if your brand isn't showing up in these moments? You might lose a potential consumer not because they can't afford your vehicle, but because they couldn't find the information they were looking for."

And speaking of search, AudienceSCAN reported Potential Vehicle Lessees are 36% less likely than average consumers to go past the first page of search results.

Where-​Should-​I-​Buy-​It Moments

"We're not quite at the stage of making auto purchases straight from our smartphones. So, if you want to be one of the few dealership visits consumers make when they're ready to buy, it's critical that they can find you through mobile. One in three car shoppers, who use their mobile devices as part of the car purchase process, locate or call a dealer on their mobile device."

"Thanks to mobile, consumers can fuel their research process right in the moment. One shopper used his smartphone to locate and call a dealer, because he spotted a car he fell in love with. But he just as easily could have given up entirely and put the car sighting down to a pleasant memory, or turned to another dealer that did provide the information he was looking for."

During the past 6 months, 29.1% of Potential Vehicle Lessees have used a click to call button/​link, AudienceSCAN research revealed.

Am-​I-​Getting-​A-​Deal Moments

"So the consumer is on the lot. You're getting ready to close the sale – but they keep looking at their smartphone. That's because searches for competing dealers occur more often when at the dealership."

"As you can see from one of the am-​I-​getting-​a-​deal search paths, even when consumers have decided on a vehicle and are on the lot ready to buy, they still want real-​time advice that they're getting the best value."

What can your brand do?

"Be there: One in four car purchasers turn to mobile every day to research vehicles. Go through the moments above and ask yourself: Is my brand showing up? Make sure you're there at every step so you don't miss out on being part of the consideration set when the consumer makes the decision to buy."

"Be useful: Help consumers say "Yes!" to your brand by giving them the content they need, when they need it—whether that be videos and images of your cars, dealership locations, pricing and inventory, or anything in between. Optimize for mobile, so people can research on the go."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.