Tag Archives: auto industry trends
Published Jan 1, 2020
There are many interesting car buying statistics to review as 2019 comes to close. Let’s take a look at the latest automotive sales trends and breakdown car buyer demographics for the past year.
Car Sales Statistics for 2019
In 2018 we saw the sale of passenger cars dropping, but in 2019 there’s been a comeback with many consumers considering 4-door sedans as their next vehicle. However, the top three selling vehicles for 2019 were all SUVs. Even though awareness is high for hybrid and electric vehicles, a majority of consumers still prefer a traditional gas/diesel vehicle. Vehicle connectivity is becoming a more prevalent feature but there is a privacy concern from most users.
- These were the best-selling vehicles in 2019 (GoodCarBadCar):
- Overall vehicle sales have been on a decline over the past few years. 7.2 million in 2018, 16.8 million in 2019, and projected for 16.5 million in 2020. (Cox)
- Used vehicle sales were about the same over the past few years. 39.5 million 2018, 39.5 million in 2019, and projected for 39.2 million in 2020. (Cox)
- 54% of consumers would consider a 4-door sedan as their next vehicle. (ThinkNow)
- 71% of Americans still prefer gas/diesel (ICE) for their next vehicle. (Deloitte)
- 47% of Americans think vehicle connectivity is beneficial. (Deloitte)
Car Buying Consumer Habits and Trends
The overall shopping experience has slightly improved and become more efficient, but there still could be a lot of improvement in the final purchase process. Many car shoppers spent time considering and researching used cars this year as well. Baby Boomers are the least likely to purchase or lease a car within the next 12 months. Among the heavy demand for SUVs in 2019, midsize SUVs were the most popular.
- 30% of consumers plan to purchase or lease within the next 12 months. Of those who plan to purchase within the next 12 months, 35% were between 18-34. 39% of those who do not plan on purchasing in the near future were between 55-64. (ThinkNow)
- 79% of consumers in the market for a new vehicle plan on buying, while 12% plan to lease. (ThinkNow)
- Consumers are leaning more towards used vehicles for their next purchase; 64% would consider a used vehicle, while 35% would prefer a new vehicle. (Cox)
- Behind 4-door sedans, SUVs are the most popular choice for a consumer’s next vehicle. (ThinkNow)
- 22% plan on buying a pickup truck as their next vehicle and 14% plan on buying a minivan. (ThinkNow)
- Buyers spend on average 96 days in the market for a new vehicle, which has fallen significantly from 118 days in 2017. (Cox)
- The average time buyers spend on researching and shopping has dropped from 14:44 hours in 2017 to 13:55 hours in 2019. (Cox)
- 35% of consumers become aware of a new make from friends and family, 22% from the internet, and 13% from TV. (Cox)
- 61% of vehicle shopping is done online, while 20% is done at the dealership. (Cox)
Car Buyer Demographics and Preferences
The main features consumers are looking for in a new vehicle are still reliability and safety, but the demand for affordability has been increasing in 2019. A majority of shoppers pick a vehicle because of the feature list, but many continue to make their choice based on the brand. Consumers are starting to look towards used vehicles because the price of new vehicle purchases and leases have been steadily rising over the past few years.
- What customers are looking for in a new vehicle: Durability/reliability, safety, affordability, driving comfort, and driving performance. (Cox)
- These are some the reasons consumers use for selecting a particular vehicle (Cox):
- 64% of consumers rate affordability as an important factor; demand for affordability is increasing. (Cox)
- However, car prices are increasing. The share of vehicles priced between $20,000 – $29,999 has fallen from 47% in 2012 to 34% in 2019, while the share of vehicles priced over $50,000 has risen from 6% to 23%. (Cox)
- 60% of car shoppers are between 18 and 54, and more specifically, consumers between 35-54 prefer to buy an SUV (48%) over consumers between 18-34 (37%). (AdColony)
- 53% of buyers consider the total price of the vehicle as more important than monthly. 47% consider the monthly price equal to or more important than the total price of the vehicle. But average monthly payments have increased (Cox):
- New buyers tend to place more value on the deal for the vehicle (26%) than on the brand itself (20%). (Cox)
- Consumers between 18-34, Millennials (41%), are more interested in autonomous vehicles than 55-64 , Baby Boomers (15%). (ThinkNow)
Online Car Buying Consumer Habits
Another reason car shopping has become a bit more efficient is because online engagement has increased. Many consumers consider a smartphone essential when they are at the dealership in order to compare prices. However, desktop usage is still the most popular option for consumers when online car shopping. A majority of consumers in 2019 turned to third-party car sites for unbiased information. Third-party car sites also drive brand awareness, while people turn to OEM sites for specific trim details and dealer sites to search for a specific vehicle.
Dealerships can increase the customer satisfaction level if they can convince customers to use an online/digital platform during the final purchase process. Consumers are still heavily relying on the internet for their research in car prices and features. There is also a rising demand for informative car videos that would help customers make their final purchase decision.
- 77% of people still use a desktop as the primary platform for online car shopping. (Cox)
- There is a 52% increase from 2018 in multiple device/mobile usage to look up vehicle prices, photos, or details on specifications. (Cox)
- 80% of website visits from buyers are for third-party car sites, 46% for dealership sites, and 27% of visits are for the OEM site. (Cox)
- 80% of shoppers visit at least two websites during the shopping process; average number of sites visited is 4.2 (Cox)
- Among those visiting multiple sites, 65% start their search with a third-party site and 58% end with a third-party site; 32% end at the dealership site. (Cox)
- Some of the reasons consumers use digital or online platforms for vehicle shopping (Cox):
- 61% of consumers will consider a relevant auto advertisement when shopping for a car. 54% have clicked on an auto ad while shopping. (AdColony)
- 70% would have an interest in watching or engaging with a video on their mobile device to explore models and features. (AdColony)
- Consumers between 18-34 (18%) are more open to online car buying than consumers between 35-54 (9%). However, 81% still prefer to purchase or lease in-person. (ThinkNow)
- Customers can save time using an online or digital platform:
Dealership Experience and Trends
There is a small increase in loyalty towards a single dealership in 2019, with average number of visits to a dealership on a decline. A strong majority of consumers prefer to make their vehicle purchase in-person because they value the test drive experience and interaction with sales people. Customer satisfaction increases as the time spent in the dealership goes down, so dealerships need to focus on making the paperwork process a lot more efficient.
- The average number of visits to a dealership before making a purchase has fallen from 2.7 visits in 2017 to 2.3 visits in 2019. (Cox)
- However, people tend to visit one dealership now; 41% in 2019 from 30% in 2017. (Cox)
- The various forms of communication and contact for dealerships are (Cox):
- Buyers do not want to spend time at the dealership; average time spent is 2:52 hours in 2019. Consumers who spend on average of 3:36 hours have a worse overall dealership experience. (Cox)
- Most customers are disappointed in the length of the purchase process, with 47% of the time spent negotiating and signing paperwork. Within the paperwork stage, 55% think waiting for the paperwork to process is the most frustrating part. (Cox)
- 74% of consumers were satisfied with the test driving experience and 66% were satisfied with the interactions with the sales people at the dealership. (Cox)
Ride-Sharing Service Trends
The awareness and occasional use of ride-sharing services has increased but overall usage has decreased over the past two years; Millennials make up most of its user-base. Even though ride-sharing services are still a popular option, many drivers don’t think it will impact their vehicle purchase plans for the near future.
- Overall ride-sharing usage has decreased in the past two years. 12% use it more than once per week in 2019 versus 23% in 2017. (Deloitte)
- The likelihood of using a ride-sharing service, like Uber and Lyft, are still high. 36% are very likely and 23% are somewhat likely to use service. (ThinkNow)
- Among ride-sharing service users, demographics that think they still need their own vehicle (Deloitte):
- 35% of drivers that use a ride-sharing service think that it would have no impact on their future car ownership. (ThinkNow)
- 48% of ride-sharing service users are between 18-34 while 34% are between 35-54. (ThinkNow)
Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Trends
Awareness is very high for hybrid, electric, and plug-in vehicles but consumers are discouraged by the expensive prices, lack of knowledge about the engine type, and confusing EV tax incentives. In 2019, the awareness of alternative-fuel vehicles increases as customer income increases.
- 22% prefer a hybrid option as their next vehicle choice, while only 4% would consider an all-electric (BEV). (Deloitte)
- Awareness for hybrid and electric options increase with income. There is a 38% level of awareness for people making over 80k a year. While there is a 17% awareness level for people making under 40k a year. (ThinkNow)
- Reasons why consumers do not consider alternative-fuel vehicles (ThinkNow):
Vehicle Connectivity Trends
Some of the features from vehicle connectivity in newer cars allows for drivers to unlock their doors, check fuel levels, start their vehicle, and adjust systems from their smartphone. It also has potential for future autonomous features that would connect cars to larger ecosystem. Sensors could allow for the vehicle to autonomously react to different road conditions and assist the driver. But in 2019, consumers don’t really want to pay extra for these features.
- 63% of consumers are somewhat or very concerned about bio-metric data being shared with external parties. 31% trust the OEM to manage the data generated from vehicles and 31% do not trust anyone to manage the data. (Deloitte)
- What drivers are looking for in vehicle connectivity (Deloitte):
- 25% of consumers are willing to pay more than a little, 42% would pay only a little, while 33% would not pay any extra for connectivity features that will increase road safety and infrastructure. (Deloitte)
Overall Car Buying Trends and Analysis
Car consumers are continuing to use digital tools to aid their purchase decision, specifically utilizing third-party car sites. Consumers wanted a reliable and feature-full SUV in 2019, but we could potentially see a shift towards passenger vehicles in 2020. New car prices and leases are steadily increasing so many consumers are looking towards used cars. Consumers still prefer to head to the dealership to make the final purchase, but dealerships and customers could greatly benefit from improved online financial services and awareness.
https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/manufacturing/articles/automotive-trends-millennials-consumer-study.html https://b2b.autotrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Cox-Automotive-Car-Buyer-Journey-Study-Research-Deck.pdf https://thinknowresearch.com/blog/the-future-of-vehicle-ownership-2019-purchase-trends/ https://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2019-us-vehicle-sales-figures-by-model/ https://www.adcolony.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Car-Buying-Survey-Feb-2019.pdf
The auto industry is at a tipping point and things are about to get a lot better for consumers. Within the past ten years a majority of shoppers now start the car buying process online before heading to dealerships. That trend is driving prices down and sites like Edmunds, CarsDirect, and TrueCar are bringing more transparency to an otherwise murky transaction. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Even the most savvy Internet researchers get strong armed in the Finance Office when it comes time to close a deal. Fortunately, the industry is still in transition and how you buy a car is soon to drastically change.
Most pundits offer boring auto industry predictions that revolve around manufacturer production and sales numbers. But what does that really mean to you, the car buyer? How do industry changes affect your buying experience….and wallet?
Let’s take a different approach today and look at auto industry trends from the car buyer point of view. Here are my predictions of how things will change for car buyers over the next 3 years.
- Initial new car prices will drop while negotiated prices will level out because of increased competition and comparison shopping habits. More and more consumers will check the “True Market Value®”, “Target Price”, or get a “Price Report” at home or from their mobile device while at a dealership. The difference between the best deal on the market and the worst deal will slowly converge as car buyers can see what other people paid for the same vehicle. Manufacturer and dealer margins on car prices will continue to get slimmer and they will need to make profits elsewhere.
- The trend of LESS personalization will continue. Manufacturers pump out a limited number of variations of each vehicle to save costs. This will mean more pre-configured options you don’t necessarily want, but provide profits to dealership who can charge more because they will not provide an alternative.
- The trend of dealerships supplying cheap price quotes (teasers) for vehicles they don’t have in stock will decline. Car quote services usually allow you to configure a car with any options you want and request prices. But as I mentioned in my last point, dealers only stock certain configurations and may not have exactly what you request on their lot. That often doesn’t stop them from providing you a price on a non-existent vehicle, and then not tell you it’s out of stock until you get to the lot (or ask for a VIN# over email). Dealerships will get poor social media reviews for this sneaky tactic and over time bad ratings will weed out the more shady marketers…..although I don’t expect this tactic to disappear entirely.
- Google will partner with Edmunds or TrueCar and dominate the market for online car leads. Google has already announced they will be entering into the auto lead business, but they are missing one key element that the major lead brokers have. The missing element is historical data from dealerships about sales prices to show car buyers what they should consider a good target price. Google will need to partner with Edmunds or TrueCar to provide market data so that something like Edmunds True Market Value® or the TrueCar Price Report can be incorporated directly into search results along-side prices.
Now why would either of these companies want to partner with Google? Because Google is the clear leader in search and a partnership would make their lead business jump through the roof without a financial strain. Right now they shell out millions for PPC ads and partnering will make more financial sense and ensure proper placement in search results. Not only that, but an agreement would allow them to show dealer results and a target price right on the search screen rather than having to click through and perform a second search.
- The transition to Google means getting car prices will be easier. You won’t have to enter all your contact information (as a lead) in order to see prices at local dealerships. (Car hacks may eventually become obsolete). You will be able to search for a “model+options”, sort by cost, and click through to view all the details similar to how you would search for prices on flat screen TV’s. This will be a major shift in how lead brokers are used to operating, but I see it as inevitable. Can you imagine searching for a big screen and having to enter your phone number, email, and address in order to see a price? Online retailers would lose a lot of business and so will car lead brokers if they don’t get with the program. Also, because prices will be so much easier to get, competition will increase and prices will be driven downward. We’re likely to get to a point where you won’t have to negotiate at all after getting car prices online because car dealers will provide their lowest cost up front (just like online electronics retailers).
- You’ll be able to complete an entire car purchase online. After getting a price, you will be able to finish the whole transaction online including your financing and trade-in. You can already get auto financing from online lenders and dealerships will follow suit or partner up. Same goes for your trade-in, you can already go to AutoTrader and get a free online appraisal valid for 72 hours and a service like this will be offered at the point of sale through local dealerships. Note: You’ll still have to negotiate your trade-in at the dealership as online offers will likely be low.
In some cases (if you don’t have a trade-in) you won’t even have to visit a dealership to pick-up your car. You’ll be able to sign everything on line (using something like Escrow.com and SignNow) and the car will be delivered to you. High-end dealerships already do pick-up and delivery for service requests – in fact, my father is one of the drivers!
- Bundling with new markets: We will see a variety of new cross promotional pushes like the travel industry (airlines, hotels, and rental cars) and credit cards. For example, Ford could partner with Avis Rent-A-Car, so if you bought a Ford you’d be enrolled in the Avis Preferred program and get special discounts if you rent from them while traveling. I also expect to see credit card companies in the mix allowing you to sign-up for a rewards card at the point of sale and use it for a portion of your down payment.
- Dealers will start partnering with car wrap companies and offer discounts at the point of sale to those who sign up to be a moving advertisement. If a car dealer offered you a $1000 discount for a car with a Sheetz logo, would you sign up to have your new car wrapped in an ad?
- Post purchase feedback will become much more social. After a sale, car dealers are currently rated through a CSI survey or WSI survey where feedback is directly tied to their bonuses. Surveys and ratings like these will shift into social media to take advantage of the marketing element. Dealers have always pushed for positive feedback but when results are public, they may even try things like offering a free oil change in exchange for “liking” a dealership or posting survey results on your Facebook wall after you buy a car.
- Legislation will be introduced to require electric car charging in business parking lots. For example, companies with more than say 200 spots will be forced to offer charging stations (which may be subsidized) to encourage EV adoption.
- EV charging stations will make more money than gas stations and pop-up everywhere. Businesses will take advantage of the time required to charge a car and the resulting captive attention from consumers. They’ll sell through convenience stores, book stores, hair salons, health clubs, and tons of other options for people to spend their money while they wait for their cars to charge.
- Moped sales in the US will skyrocket and shoot up at least ten-fold. Younger people on tight budgets will adopt the European model and buy the much lower cost form of transportation. It might even become trendy to own a moped and the negative stigma will quickly disappear.
I’m optimistic that many of these auto industry changes will come true because they’ll mean lower prices and an easier purchase process for car buyers.
Published Jan 12, 2019
Car Sales Statistics for 2018
There are a few trends in automotive sales that are worth noting. Passenger car sales are dropping, while SUV’s and crossovers are increasing in sales for 2018. Another trend we are starting to see is how the public is becoming more acceptant of self-driving vehicles compared to 2017. However, most consumers are still not willing to pay extra for this feature or for electric vehicles. This makes sense because most consumers are still in the market for a traditional gasoline/diesel type engine.
- General Motors is currently ranked as the top automotive maker in the United States in 2018 with a market share of 16.48%. Followed by Toyota Motor Corp. with 14.72%, then Ford with 14.44%. (Goodcarbadcar)
- Passenger car sales dropped below 30% of the market share in August 2018 for the first month ever. (USA Today)
- Sales of mid-size (15.6% decrease) and compact cars (13.6% decrease) fell in August 2018, while compact crossovers and SUV’s rose about 14.8% of the market share. (USA Today)
- 47% of people in United States think fully self-driving vehicles will not be safe in 2018, compared to 74% in 2017. (Deloitte)
- 38% of people in the United States are unwilling to pay the extra money for vehicles equipped with a self-driving feature. 33% of people are unwilling to pay extra for electric vehicles. (Deloitte)
- 80% of consumers in the United States still prefer gasoline/diesel as their engine type, 15% prefer hybrid electric, and only 3% prefer battery electric. (Deloitte)
- Industry experts predict that the average digital ad expenditure for the automotive industry will exceed $14 billion by 2020. (Oppmax)
Car Buying Consumer Statistics and Trends
Millennials and baby boomers are both using a digital platform as a tool to research before purchasing. A majority of the time spent researching is done online now, but a brick and mortar dealership is still very valuable. A majority of consumers still want to either test drive or see the car in person before making their final decision. Since a lot of the research is done by the consumer, they will form their own opinions before entering the dealership. Auto dealerships and manufacturers need to maintain a consistent message online and at their physical location.
- 58% of drivers expect to use their current vehicle until the very last mile before purchasing another. (Oppmax)
- Over 66% of consumers in United States take less than three months and spend less than 10 total hours of research for their car purchase in 2018. (Deloitte)
- Car buyers on average spend 14:29 hours shopping for a car. 61% of it is done online, while 21% of it is done at the dealership. (Cox Automotive)
- Millennials spend on average 16.9 weeks for their purchase decision versus Baby Boomers who take on average 15.7 weeks. (V12Data)
- 8 out of 10 shoppers need to see the vehicle in person, and 7 out of 10 shoppers want to test drive before purchasing vehicle. (Deloitte)
- 75% of all car buyers reported that they intend to purchase their top of mind brand, or the highest quality brand through unaided awareness. Quality is way more important than quantity. (Nielsen)
- Only 55% of OEM/Brand sites and 53% of dealer websites have met consumer expectations. This includes expectations for in-dealer digital tools, dealer/manufacturer communications, and digital support for trade-in, configurations, or pricing tools. (Deloitte)
- Customers who rent a car from Enterprise Holdings’ brands are 55% more likely than the average consumer to purchase a new vehicle within 6 months of rental. (Wharton)
Buyer Demographics and What They Want
Consumers over the age of 40 make up a majority of car buyers in 2018. To contrast that, the percentage of car ownership among 18-34 year olds has been decreasing for some time now. Regardless if it is a used car or new, consumers in 2018 value Bluetooth/USB connectivity as a feature for their next vehicle.
- The top three features consumers are looking for in a new car are safety (21%), Bluetooth/USB connectivity (15%), and a spacious interior (11%). (Crimson Hexagon)
- The top three features consumers are looking for in a used car are Bluetooth/USB connectivity (31%), low miles (28%), and automatic transmission (17%). (Crimson Hexagon)
- Consumers over the age of 40 account for 75% of all new car sales. (Nielsen)
- 38% of millennial consumers say that would consult social media in making their next car purchase. (Wharton)
- Car ownership among 18-34 year olds has dropped 30% in the past five years. Due to the rising price of automobiles and opportunities with ride sharing services. (Forbes)
- Boomers watch 154% more live TV than millennials, and millennials spend 173% more time on TV-connected devices. Millennials spend more time on their computers and mobile devices. (Nielsen)
Car Buying Consumer Habits
A majority of consumers do not know what car to buy when starting their purchase process. They will resort to 3rd party sites over manufacturer or dealership sites. Auto dealerships may want to focus in on loyalty programs; customers tend to return to the dealership where they previously purchased a vehicle. Different demographics look at car pricing differently, some view the monthly costs as being more useful compared to the total price.
- 60% of shoppers are unsure of which car to buy when starting research on their next vehicle. (Tubular Insights)
- 61% (55% in the previous year) of total buyers in 2018 NEED a new vehicle versus 39% (45% in the previous year) that WANT a new vehicle. (Cox Automotive)
- Car buyers spend 62% of their time spent on various sites on 3rd party sites, followed by 13% on OEM/Manufacturer sites, and 12% on dealership sites. (Cox Automotive)
- 67% of consumers visit only one or two dealerships before making a purchase. (Netsertive)
- 49% of the initial contact with a dealership is done through walk-ins. 26% through phone, and 17% through email. (Cox Automotive)
- 53% of car buyers look for monthly payment information first, while 47% look at the total price of the vehicle. Generally, females, younger age groups, lower income consumers, and those with children are more likely to be interested in monthly payment price. (Cox Automotive)
- 40% of customers purchased/leased from the same dealership where they previously made their decision. Compared to 34% in 2017. (Cox Automotive)
Digital Side of Car Buying Process
Most consumers prefer to do their own research online and a majority of the time they are researching car prices. They are using consumer reviews, search engines, and dealer websites to influence their decision. YouTube is becoming a very popular resource for potential car buyers. Auto dealerships and manufacturers should utilize YouTube videos in order to influence and convert their customers online, where a majority of their time is spent. A lot of consumers use their mobile devices to research, so a user-friendly and consistent web presence is important.
- 83% of car shoppers expected that online buying technology would help with their purchasing decision. 80% said they would likely use some form of online payment. (Wharton)
- The highest online activity conducted by online car shoppers is researching car prices with 71%. (V12Data)
- 70% of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched. This is much higher than TV, newspapers, or magazines. (Tubular Insights)
- Time spent watching test drives, features and options, and walkthroughs, has doubled on YouTube in the past year. (Tubular Insights)
- 22% of buyers purchase the make and model of the car they first searched. (Tubular Insights)
- 62% of purchasers would rather spend time online researching, compared to 29% that would prefer to speak to sales person. (Oppmax)
Dealership Experience and Trends
The overall attitude by consumers of dealerships is disappointing. Consumers either do not trust the dealership or they think the process takes too long. This can be resolved by the auto dealership implementing a pressure-free shopping experience paired with transparent pricing. They could also provide options for digital purchasing, which many consumers would prefer. Dealerships are still highly valuable to consumers though. Even though they don’t trust dealerships, consumers would rather negotiate in person than online.
- 67% trust that the dealership gave them the best deal. This can be increased through simple, pressure-free shopping and transparent pricing. (Cox Automotive)
- 46% satisfaction level for how long the car buying process takes at the dealership. 59% satisfaction level for interactions with the financing department. This can be fixed through shortening the purchase making process, loyalty retention, and options for digital purchasing. (Cox Automotive)
- 1 in 4 buyers are unaware of the F&I products and services offered by dealership. For example, 84% of consumers were not aware that their dealership offered lost or stolen key replacement. (Cox Automotive)
- 76% of consumers believe they can get a better price through negotiations in-person vs online. (Retail Dive)
- 72% of consumers would visit a dealership more often if the buying process was improved. 54% of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers a better experience, even if they didn’t have the lowest price. (V12Data)
Overall Car Buying Trends and Analysis
Car consumers are increasingly turning to digital platforms to research and get pricing on cars, but still want to see a car in person before committing. Digital research is no longer performed solely on manufacturer and auto industry websites as consumers turn to social media and YouTube to get impartial opinions from industry outsiders. To see where the auto industry and buying patterns are headed, check out my predictions on auto industry trends for 2019 and beyond.
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