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September 2020
12 Min read

Automotive industry research.
What to do to sell a car

Derkach Anastasiya

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We have repeatedly drawn your attention to changes in the automotive industry, which reflects our current reality. You can read about the main industry trends in our previous article. And now we would like to tell you about customer patterns whilst visiting dealerships and subsequently purchasing cars. We will do it by the example of the research that was conducted this summer in 34 countries.  

The stages of buying a car

What thoughts go to a person who decides to buy a car? 

Number 1  – I need a vehicle. I want a car for my needs (trips, working, moving, replacing an old car)

Number 2  – I have a certain budget. I need to think about which cars I can count on / I want a specific car, I need to monitor the prices.

Number 3  – Visit dealerships.

By the visit to the dealership center, the customer has already looked at the characteristics of the car on the official website of the manufacturer, and become sure at the price of the model and configuration. 2-3 or even more different dealerships have chosen. And here the skill of the staff comes into play to raise the car model they like so that the last doubts are dispelled.

We know exactly what we are talking about because our data has been confirmed by the owners of cars purchased at the dealer.

So, what affects the purchase of a car in the first place?

  • 35,5 % insist that the test drive influenced their choice.
  • 25.7% a consultation with a sales specialist determined the outcome 
  • 21.5% say that the opportunity to sit in the car in the dealer center also influenced their choice.

In conclusion, we can say that the opportunity to feel like the owner of a car and competent advice assists the sale.

Some facts about dealer centers

Buying a new car from an official dealer should be like an easy walk: the customer just comes to the dealership and buys the right car. The sales manager is a representative of the brand, who should work with the client to fully satisfy all their needs. In the process of a new car purchase, the manager has to fully control all stages so that the client does not have any problems with buying a car. 

According to our data:

  • 86% of respondents have visited the dealership at least once.
  • 36% visit more than 3 different dealerships before making a decision about purchasing a car.
  • 67% of respondents are not satisfied with the level of service that they encountered in dealer centers.

All this suggests that for any customer the important thing is the contact with a representative of the center and it directly affects the desire to buy a car. 

Dissatisfaction with visiting dealer centers

If more than half of the respondents are dissatisfied with the quality of service, what is the probability of achieving sales in such centers? It is negligible. After all, the industry research data tell us that:

  • 35,7% of respondents are dissatisfied with the fact that the sales assistant is not interested in the selling process and behaves accordingly 
  • 28,6% are not satisfied with the service in general
  • 14,3% note excessive staff pressure on the client

More than 75% of respondents mentioned the influence of staff on the decision to purchase a car. The rest is something that can’t be influenced by the staff (the price). This once again shows the importance of the consultant’s ability to influence a person’s purchase decision.

Additional sales. Or how to make sure that you sell more

We can talk a lot about the importance of additional sales for a business, especially when it comes to such a large-scale purchase as a car. In our case, it is a question of configuration – car assembly. It may cost less due to the smaller size of the engine, the metal covering, or the leather interior or it may have a higher cost. But the choice of the same engine or interior can be influenced by the consultant. Now you can go back to the first paragraph and question the statement “After all, you said that the clients know what they want to get when they come to the dealer center?” Of course, we will answer you. They know exactly what car they came for, meaning the brand and the model. But not everyone has thought that even a budget car can have cool features in the form of leather interior or branded mats. Let them know about it! And they will listen to you. Our data shows this. After consultation in a dealer center:

  • 46% – decided to purchase a vehicle with a larger number of options
  • 30% – left with what they planned to buy
  • 16% – were unable to accept another configuration due to lack of information from the consultant
  • The other 8% left more confused than when they arrived 

If you don’t understand yet, then we are coming to you (joke!). We can tirelessly repeat how the manager affects the purchase. The main conclusion to be drawn from all these statistics is the importance of the dealership staff, who can advise, direct, or dissuade the customer. Calculate the cost of a larger engine, leather interior, and branded mats and find out how much they can influence the level of sales.

New or used cars

We wanted to take into account all the variables in our study, so we asked the owners what kind of cars they prefer: new or used. And here is the result.

48% of respondents chose cars that are used.

38% – gave preference to new ones 

For the others, it did not matter what car it was. 

As almost half of the respondents said that they choose cars that are used, we asked about the reasons for this choice. And they turned out to be more than obvious. What do you think people who choose an iron horse with mileage are guided by? That’s right, the price.

  • The price of the car influenced 74%.
  • 15% were impressed by the cost of operation
  • 9% indicated the cost of insurance 

Our respondents do not mind such a purchase even if the age of the child (car) is over 10 years! This was stated by 20% of respondents. When it comes to kilometers, the owners prefer cars with 100 – 250 km mileage (27%).

However, they may be scared away by the difficulties associated with the acquisition of such a car. 17% of the respondents indicated all kinds of difficulties, such as car design, etc.

When choosing a new car there are no such difficulties, because people try to protect themselves. They replied that the most important incentive when buying a new car is a guarantee (30%), confidence in quality (26%), and reliability (22%).

Oh, the great Internet

How do I check all this information? Where to get data about a particular car or about your dealer center. This is what people think before they take up the idea called “Buying a car”. And where do they go first? That’s right – to your website. 

79% of our respondents always go to the site of the car brand they plan to buy. If you want, take a look at the average age of respondents. Most of them use the Internet less than a third of their lives. But even they know that now it is the fastest and most convenient way to learn as much as possible about future purchases.

Here are the Top 3 most interesting items that they are looking for on the site

28% – Car price

26% – Car photo

22% – Configurators – to gather the necessary options and find out the cost

It’s even very logical, people need to know how much purchase costs, what it looks like and how suitable it is for them. 


This is the second thing that people look for after being on the official website of the company. According to our research.

  • 73% of respondents always track the official test drive results before choosing a car 
  • 34% participate in discussions / forums / social groups
  • And only 5% do not trust both official sources and customer testimonials for cars.

They write on such forums about the quality of the car,  the service in the dealer, and the price. You should take care of your reputation. After all, even a small amount of negative publicity can jeopardize a large sale.

The main conclusions 

We have told you about our research in great detail. Here are some tips from customers, whose purchases are sought after especially in such difficult times.

  1. Keep an eye on the quality of service in the company. Any improvement in customer service is impossible without first analyzing the current level of service. The company must constantly conduct market research and implement improvements. Companies can assess the level of quality of services provided through the Mystery Shopping program. It is always possible to evaluate the work of your staff using the Mystery shopper call service.
  2. Be honest with your customers. Acknowledge your mistakes and always inform the client about any changes (in price, quality, waiting time, etc.). All this shows that you are developing, learning, getting stronger, and not chasing money and that you are a real specialist in your field. It also helps to improve the NPS and marketing strategy of the company.
  3.  Develop and invest in new technologies. Most organizational issues can now be solved through the company’s Internet resources. Online services are designed to support customers. With their help, tracking customer experience becomes easier, and therefore improvements in interaction are inevitable.

Sell more and do it qualitatively! Please contact us if you still have any questions, we are always happy to help!

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