What Mobile Location Data Can Tell the U.S. Auto Industry About Car Buyers

Our new report analyzes two years’ worth of proprietary dealership visitation data to better understand what mobile location data can tell us about how people shop for cars, and which brands attract the most foot traffic and consumer interest.

The rise of mobile technology, social media, and omni-channel shopping behavior has radically changed the way we buy cars, but that’s not the whole story.

We leveraged mobile location foot traffic data from more than 18,000 dealerships across the U.S. to better understand the impact of real-world cross-shopping behavior and the value that multiple dealership visits still have on the auto purchasing journey.

“The data findings in our automotive report are intended to help guide auto manufacturers, car dealerships, and marketers through the complicated landscape of how today’s consumers make their auto purchase decisions,” said Gladys Kong, CEO, UberMedia.

Utilizing our vast amounts of high-quality location data, demographic data, and interest cues, “UberMedia Data Insights on the Auto Purchasing Journey” provides in-depth analysis of cross-shopping foot traffic data from every major automotive manufacturer and the proportion of car brands that are more frequently cross-shopped, the cities with the most prevalent cross-shopping behavior, and the most competitive brand combinations that consumers cross-shop when on the verge of an auto-buying decision.

Car shoppers visit multiple dealerships before making a decision

There are a lot of industries that have been disrupted due to the dramatic shift we have seen toward online shopping. But rest assured, the auto industry is not one of them. According to  research, 59% of car buyers still visit up to 5 dealerships before buying a car. The typical person considers 2.4 vehicles on average.

“There is so much conflicting information in the marketplace, and our empirical UberMedia mobile location data, spanning across 18,000 U.S. car dealerships, highlights the fact that consumers still actively cross-shop car brands and still engage in-person with the showroom experience. This is great news for anyone in the auto industry,” said Kong.

The car shopping journey varies by city

Cross-shopping is more common in urban areas where there are more brands and dealerships to choose from, and less common in rural areas. Angelenos visit multiple auto dealerships more than any other city.

Ford, Mercedes, and Toyota, which rank high in customer loyalty, are the some of the least cross-shopped brands by proportion of those shoppers seen in other dealer showrooms. Chrysler shoppers are more likely to be seen at other auto dealer showrooms than any other brand.

People shopping for a luxury car tend to visit fewer dealerships, suggesting that affluent shoppers tend to go to only one dealership before making a purchase. People shopping for a car from a mass-market auto manufacturer tend to visit more dealerships. We observed that Dodge and Jeep are the most cross-shopped auto brands by sheer volume across the U.S.

Bottom line: We Google it. But we also show up for a test drive.

Just because shoppers still show up to dealerships doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their research. It turns out that well-informed researchers actually visit more dealerships before buying a car. Despite the wealth of information at consumers’ fingertips, they still want personal interaction with a car brand before making a decision.

Key Takeaways

  • More than half of auto shoppers visit multiple dealerships before making a purchase. Some research sources claim that 41% of new car buyers visit one dealership, but 59% visit an average of up to 5 dealers. The typical person considers 2.4 vehicles on average.
  • Ford, Mercedes, and Toyota, which rank high in customer loyalty, are the some of the least cross-shopped brands by proportion of those shoppers seen in other dealer showrooms.
  • Luxury brands experience less cross-shopping than mass market brands, indicating that the super affluent tend to go to only one dealership before making a purchase.
  • Manufacturers that are visited by the most shoppers (who were also seen at other brand dealerships) tend to be mass market brands that in many cases ladder up to the top-ranked manufacturers.
  • Cross-shopping is more common in urban areas where there are more brands and dealerships to choose from.

To download the report, please click here.

Methodology
To uncover real-world auto shopping patterns for this report, UberMedia, a trusted mobile authority that transforms mobile behavioral data into actionable consumer insights, distilled two years’ worth of proprietary dealership visitation data combined with existing research to better understand what mobile location data can tell us about how people shop for cars, and which brands attract the most foot traffic and consumer interest.

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