Survey Points To Why Car Dealers Should Leave The Advertising Sidelines.

In what could be a positive move for automotive advertising, a new survey commissioned by CarGurus finds fewer buyers are putting off a purchase. “Despite these short-term delays, most sales are not lost in the long-term. In fact, the pandemic has even stimulated some new demand,” the report says.

The survey found that in June, 69% of car shoppers reported delaying their car purchases, down from 79% in April. And even among those delaying their purchase, the majority (70%) are actively researching their planned buy. The survey showed just 2% of 2020 initial prospective buyers have now delayed their purchase indefinitely. That is down from 8% in April. The survey also found more than one in five (22%) of 2020 purchasers and current prospective buyers had not planned to buy this year before the pandemic.

Even as more Americans are working from home than ever before, riding in a car never looked better compared to jumping on a bus, subway or airplane. “As consumers emerge from lockdown, change travel plans, and reconsider what mobility will look like in the long-term, vehicles are becoming even more vital to everyday life,” says CarGurus.

The survey found nearly half (49%) of respondents say they see their car as an escape or for fun and 45% say they expect to use their car for more road trips or longer drives. And almost three-quarters (72%) of those planning to travel this year say they intend to drive, rather than fly, for one or more trips.

In the longer term, a third of people surveyed say they expect to use their car more going forward than before the pandemic, with roughly four in ten saying they plan to use ride-sharing services like Uber or public transportation less. The rise of in-car time could also be another opportunity for radio to grow its already dominant share of in-car listening. According to Edison Research, 87% of in-car audio time goes to AM/FM radio. SiriusXM, in a distant second place, had just a 6% share.

For auto dealers looking to get back on the air, the survey suggests the best message would be about sales promotions. “Many shoppers are less confident in their ability to afford a vehicle purchase as a result of the pandemic, which is increasing demand for financing and causing some shoppers to switch from new to used,” says CarGurus. “But despite these near-term challenges, people are saving and laying a foundation for a better financial future.”

The survey shows nearly half (48%) of car shoppers are less confident in their ability to afford a vehicle purchase as a result of COVID-19. And while before the pandemic 49% of car shoppers planned to finance their purchase, now 60% plan to. Even so, one-third of those considering financing lost confidence in their ability to get a loan approved.

When it came to communicating a timely message to car buyers, the survey found some brands are doing a better job than others. The top brands car shoppers recognized as having responded well to the coronavirus crisis were Ford (19%), Honda (18%), Toyota (18%), Chevrolet (16%), BMW (11%), and Audi (10%).

Download the second CarGurus COVID-19 Sentiment Study HERE.

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