Pandemic Is Changing Car Buying Plans, But Not All Buyers Are Discouraged

RESTON, Virginia –

Nearly three in four applicants who planned to purchase a vehicle in the next six months said the pandemic had changed their plans in some way, according to a new study. The main change is that they were more focused on finding a good deal.

The new research comes from media planner Comscore, and the research also shows that the pandemic is the number one economic concern for four in ten who want to buy a new vehicle.

Other ways the pandemic changed plans for purchasing intentions for a new vehicle were that they are currently more cautious with all of their spending, they expect to research more vehicles, income uncertainty has delayed their planned purchase and they plan to purchase new vehicles rather than used ones. or certified pre-owned.

Comscore interviewed candidates – or respondents who were considering buying or leasing a new or used vehicle – to understand how COVID-19 has changed the auto shopping landscape and contributed to changes in consumer behavior.

Other information from the survey:

– Almost half of the applicants said their income was negatively affected by COVID-19.
– More people aged 18 to 34 and 34 to 54 were negatively affected than those aged 55 and over.

A third of applicants expected the pandemic and the resulting economic situation to delay their research and subsequent purchase schedule.

But not all buyers have been put off, Comscore said.

Fifty-five percent of applicants expected no schedule change due to COVID.

Twenty-seven percent said the pandemic had not changed their vehicle purchasing plans at all.

In fact, due to new offerings and customer support available for new vehicles, changes in levels of COVID-19 cases and their feeling of being less safe in more public modes of transportation, 13% of applicants expected their research timelines to shorten.

Comscore said U.S. auto buyers and sales have rebounded from their April 2020 lows. This is mainly due to actions by automakers to financially support and incentivize consumers as well as interest sustainability and flexibility for better-off consumers. The people least economically affected by the pandemic stayed in the market to buy at their convenience and take advantage of the offers.

In addition to financial support, automakers have empowered their dealer networks to embrace new, convenient and safe COVID services. Comscore said this was done to keep consumers comfortable and alleviate potential obstacles in their travels.

Several automakers have launched new “online retail experience” sites and tools that allow consumers to shop, get quotes, apply for loans, purchase and arrange delivery to. home, all from their home. Comscore called this “perhaps the most promising new offering”.

Forty-eight percent of applicants last year expressed interest in buying and purchasing a car entirely online. This is an increase of 10 points compared to 2019.

This renewed interest has resulted in a surge of traffic to the online shopping domains that various automakers have launched or expanded in response to the pandemic.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (now Stellantis) launched last April, before moving to e-Shop brand domains. In December, the number of unique visits to FCA’s online store area had increased by 214% since its launch.

Comscore Automotive Vice President Dennis Bulgarelli said that despite the economic impact of the pandemic, consumers remain prepared for larger purchases such as vehicles, as long as they see the right motivation.

“This means that in the short term, automakers must continue to strategize and innovate to meet the distinct needs of different types of consumers,” Bulgarelli said in a press release.

Bulgarelli also said: “Even if life begins to return to ‘normal’, consumers will have adapted new habits, preferences and expectations regarding the services available – and they are unlikely to take the revocation of the now standard amenities. Brands from all walks of life – automakers are no exception – will need to be ready and informed to continue to deliver value. “

Comscore provided an outlook for 2021, saying that although vaccinations are on the rise, it could still be several months before many consumers have a more “normal” car-buying experience.

With many consumers still keen to make larger purchases such as vehicles, automakers should in the short term continue to strategize and innovate to meet the distinct needs of different types of consumers, Comscore said.

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