In Comscore’s latest State of Automotive survey, Comscore surveyed respondents who had plans to buy or lease a new or used vehicle (‘intenders’) to understand how COVID-19 has changed the automotive shopping landscape and contributed to shifts in consumer behaviors.
Despite a third of intenders reporting that they expected the pandemic and resulting economic situation to delay their research and subsequent purchasing timeline, not all shoppers were deterred. Comscore found that 55% of intenders reported that they expected no timeline change due to COVID and 27% reported that the pandemic had not changed their plans to purchase a vehicle at all. In fact, 13% of intenders expected their research timeline to shorten because of the new deals and customer assistance available for new vehicles, changes in COVID-19 case levels, and their feelings about being less safe in more public modes of transportation.
US auto shoppers and sales both saw a robust revival from their April 2020 lows, primarily due to a combination of actions taken by automakers to support and incentivize consumers financially as well as the durable interest and flexibility of more affluent consumers. Those less economically impacted by the pandemic remained in market to purchase at their convenience and take advantage of offers.
Beyond financial supports, automakers empowered their dealer networks to adopt new COVID-safe and convenient services to keep consumers comfortable and ease potential roadblocks in their journeys. Perhaps the most promising new offering, new “online retail experience” sites and tools were launched by several automakers for consumers to shop, get quotes, seek loans, purchase, and set up home delivery, all from the safety and convenience of their homes. Nearly half of intenders (48%) in 2020 were interested in shopping for and purchasing a car completely online, a 10-point increase from 2019.
That boost in interest translated to a strong influx of traffic to the online shopping domains launched or expanded by various automakers in response to the pandemic. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (now Stellantis) launched “DriveFCA.com” in April 2020, later transitioning to branded “e-Shop” domains. By December 2020, unique visitation to FCA’s e-shop domain had grown 214% since launch.
“Despite the economic impact of the pandemic, consumers remain ready to buy, even larger purchases, like vehicles, as long as they’re motivated in the right way,” said Dennis Bulgarelli, Vice President, Auto, Comscore. “That means in the near term, automakers must continue strategizing and innovating to meet the distinct needs of different consumer types. Even as life begins to return to ‘normal’, consumers will have adapted new habits, preferences, and expectations about what services are available – and they likely won’t take kindly to a revocation of the now standard conveniences. Brands across the spectrum – automakers being no exception – will have to be ready and informed to keep delivering value.”
For additional consumer automotive insights, download the ‘Impact of COVID-19‘ infographic. Comscore will continue to monitor these changing consumption habits on its Coronavirus Insights Hub. To learn more about how Comscore can provide you with custom insights, contact us today.
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