The Cox Automotive 2017 Car Buyer Journey Study uncovered plenty of results that are worth unpacking.

The 2017 Car Buyer Journey Study

online car shoppingIHS Automotive, commissioned by Cox Automotive, performed the 2017 Car Buyer Journey Study. The goal was to examine the behaviors of consumers during the process of buying a car. It looked at how and where they spend their time, what influences their decisions, how they perceive dealerships, and more.

A total of 2,175 car buyers who purchased or leased a car within the prior year were surveyed for the study.

The results can give dealers a better idea of what consumers are doing online during the car buying process, which they can use to create fresh marketing opportunities.

The Findings

Among respondents who used the internet to do some car shopping, 60% of their purchase journey was conducted online. Cox Automotive found that car shoppers, on average, spend about 14 hours and 48 minutes getting a vehicle, meaning over eight of those hours are dedicated to online time.

What are they using to online car shop? 53% of online shoppers use multiple devices. Here is a breakdown of their usage of different devices:

  • Computer (desktop/laptop): 79%
  • Smartphone: 56%
  • Tablet: 32%

If you are wondering what they are doing when online car shopping, here are the top five activities according to the study:

  • Researching car pricing: 86%
  • Finding out what their current car is worth: 74%
  • Comparing different models: 72%
  • Finding actual vehicles listed for sale: 67%
  • Locating a dealer or getting dealer information: 44%

Cox Automotive also looked into where car shoppers are spending their time online. On average, car buyers spend a total of eight hours and 54 minutes online. This is how that time is allocated:

  • 62% of their total amount of time online was spent visiting third-party sites.
  • Dealership websites: 13%
  • Search engines: 11%
  • OEM websites: 9%
  • Other: 5%

Cox Automotive found that while 83% of all buyers who shop online use third-party sites, only 54% use dealership websites.

What Dealers Can Learn

The study gives dealers a nice look into the minds of car buyers. They can use the results to tailor their marketing, CRM and sales processes accordingly.

  • Marketing - The study shows where and on what devices consumers are car shopping online. The results clearly show that it's important to have a website that works consistently for each device consumers use. In fact, you can even design content specifically for each device. The study also shows that your marketing strategy should be integrated, as consumers use third-party sites the most in their research.
  • F&I - The study also found that consumers are much more likely to purchase F&I products if they are already aware of them before their visit to the dealership. Cox Automotive suggests that dealers increase awareness by offering educational resources on your website and by giving consumers access to a menu during down times of the sales process — i.e. when waiting for paperwork to be prepped.
  • Your Website - While third-party websites are more popular among online car shoppers, your dealership's website is still critical when it comes to driving in-person visits. Cox found that 47% of new car buyers and 60% of used vehicle buyers gave the website of the dealership they purchased from a rating of eight, nine or 10 on a scale of 1-10. What makes a good website? According to the study, one that is user-friendly, compelling, and consistent across multiple devices. It also needs to accurately reflect inventory, pricing, incentives, services, and amenities offered.

The Bottom Line

The 2017 Car Buyer Journey Study from Cox Automotive is filled with great information for dealers that can help them be more successful. Auto Credit Express is another great resource dealers can use to bolster their subprime department.

Our industry-leading car sales leads, profit-driving software, and other dealer tools can help your store boost its bottom line. Learn more by giving us a call at 888-535-2277 or by filling out our contact form online.