The car industry talks a lot about digital marketing and the importance of selling cars online. Perhaps it needs to get a bit more specific about the online platform, because among the many ways that Covid-19 has changed our lives is the rapidly rising profile of the smartphone as an automotive marketing and selling tool.
Of course, American consumers depended upon their phones long before the pandemic spread fear around the world. But in the midst of the health crisis the smartphone has become nearly indispensable to those who are in the market to buy a car and, thus, to those who would sell one to them.
From vehicle research to price shopping to dealer selection, American car buyers are pulling out their phones to get information that will guide their buying process. Further, more and more consumers are using their phone to consummate the car purchase and schedule delivery. Not only can you research and buy a car from your couch in your pajamas, but you can now do it without logging on to your laptop or desktop. You can buy a car just like ordering a pizza or scheduling an hour on a municipal tennis court.
AdColony is a Century City, Calif.-based service provider that works closely with advertisers and publishers to help them maximize their smartphone campaigns and integrations. Its just-released study of consumer attitudes and behavior, Car Buying Survey 2020 (USA), details just how reliant consumers have become on the smartphones when it comes to shopping for a car.
Instead of treating their phone as a supplemental research tool, consumers rely heavily on their smartphones for every aspect of the car buying process. A strong majority of respondents to the survey said they use their phones to research car models and specs (66%) and compare prices (74%). Once they’ve narrowed the search to their top choices, they then use their smartphones to find dealership locations (60%).
“We’ve seen that consumers are becoming more acclimated to using their mobile devices to access important purchasing information,“ Jean Ortiz-Luis, marketing communications specialist at AdColony told Forbes.com. “For instance, the 2019 edition of this survey only saw 40% of respondents using their phones to find dealership locations. Over the last year, this jumped up by 20%.”
This begs the question are information providers keeping up with the information needs of shoppers with their smartphone offerings? Many of the largest third-party information providers in the automotive space — Edmunds, Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book — seem to pay much greater attention to their desktop offerings