Today's Car Buying Process: A Review of Google's Research

A recent article from Google shows what the car buyer’s process looks like today. In this article we’re breaking down what that means for the industry and buyers alike.

Car Buying Journey

(All Image Source: Think with Google)

This article published on Think with Google, shows a lot more insights into this trend and we wanted to review it to show you just how much impact this information has on the way we buy and sell cars. They provided data from a research done by Luth Research, to really show in-depth the car-buying process of today.

The Journey is Based on Online Searches

One of the key points of this article is that most car buyers have a heavy reliance on the internet. No surprise there, since many people rely on the internet for almost everything these days.

The article walks us through the journey of “Stacy”, who represents the average car buyer. While Stacy was looking for a new car for her growing family, she had over 900 digital interactions related to buying a car.

Some of those interactions where Google searches, Youtube videos, and manufacturer interactions. Below is a full chart of the different interactions she had over the 3 month period.

Clearly the modern car buying process is more than just a few taps on a keyboard and then calls to the dealership. Stacy wanted to make sure she was getting the best car for her family and at a good price, so she really did her homework. And that’s how the majority of car buyers today are behaving.

We also noticed that 71% of Stacy’s interactions occurred on mobile. That’s over half of her searches. That means that making websites mobile-responsive is key, and gearing content towards consumers who are performing lots of searches like Stacy is essential as well.

Different “Moments” in the Car Buying Journey

Another piece of information that really stood out in this article were the “micro-moments” that Stacy experienced on her journey. This refers to when the buyer turns to their devices to answer specific questions or to address a need.

It’s not that she was simply searching for “new cars” or “cars for families” but she was searching for specific questions or answers that related directly to her situation. Some of those micro moments were “which-car-is-best”, “is-it-right-for-me”, “can-I-afford-it”, “where-should-I-buy-it”, and “am-I-getting-a-good-deal” moments.

For each micro-moment, Stacy’s journey evolved as she followed a new path of inquiries and information. Each moment would take her through a series of review sites, Google searches, dealer sites, and even manufacturer sites.

Based on the results she found from her micro-moments, she would then move onto another one which would be influence by the last one. Every little moment on her journey compounded on each other as she finally came to the conclusion of which car she wanted, what price she wanted to pay and where she was going to buy it.

The Importance of Evolving with the Consumer

As the car buyer’s journey continues to evolve, we will continue to see more and more reliance on internet searches and digital interactions. This presents a great opportunity for car dealers and marketers to reach the consumer right where they’re at.

Rather than the old school model of having consumers come to the dealer to get all of their questions answered, customers are now coming onto the lot armed with the information that they already want to know. And many people have even abandoned going into the dealership all together and are preferring more user-friendly and easier alternatives such as car-buying services. (We offer those kinds of hassle-free alternatives. Learn more about our online car buying services.)

The industry now has a greater opportunity to meet consumers needs before they even have a face-to-face interaction with someone. By having a strong online presences and providing answers to consumer’s questions online, they can have many more touch points with each consumer.

Overall, we think that this will influence the industry in a great way, making it easier for consumers to buy cars and get what they want, while also providing more opportunities for dealers and sellers to interaction with those consumers on their journey. And as the car buyer’s journey evolves, the industry will no doubt evolve with it.

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