AutoTrader’s “Path to Purchase” study finds Canadians clinging to old cars

AutoTrader has recently released findings from its Path to Purchase Study, revealing that, while the top triggers to purchase a vehicle remain that their current one is getting old or they want something nicer, Canadian’s are now open to holding on to their current vehicles for longer.  The results of this new study uncover today’s car buyer’s journey from desire to purchase.

Canadians are now less concerned about an upgrade. The study found that those who say they purchased because their previous car is getting too old, has declined as a used vehicle purchase trigger, while fewer are buying a new vehicle because they want to upgrade.

Price remains top criteria for purchase. The top factors that cross the minds of Canadians before they take the leap to buy a car include price for both new (65 per cent) and used (77 per cent). 59 per cent of used buyers say mileage is one of the most important aspects followed by vehicle history (37 per cent). Other areas car shoppers consider are brand reputation (51 per cent new, 48 per cent used) fuel economy (49 per cent new, 48 per cent used) and availability (37 per cent).

But the majority of people still purchase a vehicle within three months. From the time the consumer embarks into the research stage of a vehicle to the point they finalize the purchase, this study found that the majority complete their car buying journey within three months. The purchase duration tends to be shorter for used vehicle buyers, with 33 per cent spending less than one month while only 23 per cent of new car buyers indicated spending less than one month to complete their purchase journey.

The study also found that online marketplaces are a “key touchpoint”. Online automotive marketplaces are used multiple times throughout the purchase process (on average, 15 times for used car buyers and 9.4 times for new), even after the dealership visit, so it’s key for dealers to ensure inventory is present and well merchandised online. Overall, Canadians are more focused on superior customer service. When given an option for either “a fair price, and an amazing customer experience” or “the best price, but a lackluster customer experience,” both new (40 per cent) and used (41 per cent) purchasers prefer “a fair price, and an amazing customer experience.”

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