April 27, 2022

Autos: The shift in buyer behavior – moving metal today

New research by Yahoo shows a seismic shift in the path to purchase and consumers’ preferences in the automotive industry.

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Chip shortages. Limited model availability. Excessive dealer markups. The road to purchasing a new or used car has been filled with potholes over the past two years. To counter these speed bumps, car buyers increasingly rely on digital content and services to help them purchase a car. New research by Yahoo shows a seismic shift in the path to purchase and consumers’ preferences in the automotive industry.1 Auto marketers who understand what buyers think will create more effective campaigns.

Increased use of immersive online content

Welcome to virtual car shopping. We found 76% of car buyers we surveyed used digital content and tools to evaluate cars they were thinking of buying, up from 63% two years ago.2 Video is playing a more significant role in the path to purchase. While review videos remained the most popular digital tool with buyers, digital showrooms, live streaming or recorded auto events, video conferencing and AR/VR experiences increased from two years ago.

And while we still see the majority of car buying happening in the showroom, consumers are shifting toward purchasing vehicles online. In our survey, 34% of respondents who bought a car in the past six months did so online, with 15% conducting the entire process online.3 Marketers adept at using a variety of immersive online touchpoints will generate engagement among in-market audiences.

graph of immersive content used in auto buying

New EV. New brand.

Since 2018, the share of electric and hybrid vehicles sold has tripled.4 Interest in electric vehicles (EV) continues to rise, with 1 in 3 people we surveyed who are looking for a new car now considering buying an electric or hybrid vehicle.5 But, almost half of those considering an EV said that they’d give equal consideration to a brand they don’t currently own.6 The lesson is clear – marketers must share the benefits of their EV models with existing owners or risk having current fans driving off in a competitor's EV.

EV Consideration From Current Brand Chart

Major life events lead to purchases

Buying or leasing a new car frequently occurs around major life events. According to our survey, 40% of respondents who bought or adopted a new pet in the past 6 months say they plan to buy or lease a new car in the next 6 months.7 And 42% of those entering or finishing school said they’re in the market for an auto.8 Having a baby, getting married, moving, and changing careers were also highly aligned with interest in buying a new car. Marketers that effectively leverage these signals in their campaigns will connect with consumers.

graph of car purchases by major life event

See yourself behind the wheel of a new campaign

The Yahoo DSP and sponsorship of Yahoo content enable you to reach the right automotive audiences at scale and at the right moments. Contact a Yahoo sales representative for more information about giving your next campaign that new-car smell.

1, 3, 5-8 Yahoo/Toluna Survey, February 2022.

2 Yahoo/Toluna, Survey, September 2020.

4 Yahoo/Ipsos, Survey, 2018.

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