Consumer behavior: the modern car buyer’s needs and expectations

Technology is transforming and revolutionizing everything around us, from the way we interact to the way we perform our daily activities. All industries have been deeply impacted by technological innovation and the automotive market is a great example of that. But is technology alone the driving force of progress in the automotive landscape or are there other factors in the equation? 

The truth is that the greatest influence in the automotive industry is represented by consumer behavior. Customers’ expectations and requirements dictate automotive trends, putting suppliers and manufacturers in a wild race to meet their ever-increasing standards. 

So, what do car buyers really want these days? What are their concerns and how will these aspects shape the automotive industry in the next few years? Are we going to see flying cars anytime soon or are consumers’ expectations a bit more grounded? We’re going to get inside the mind of the modern car buyer to answer these questions and more, so buckle up and enjoy the ride. 

Electric vehicles 

Plug-in electric vehicles or EVs are taking the spotlight in the automotive world. Last year, more than 2 million EVs were sold worldwide, with Tesla being the leading manufacturer in the market. It’s true that their journey is just getting started, and they’re not yet at a level where they can compete with conventional cars, but a lot of people already dream of a future when all roads will be populated by electric cars only.

Consumers are becoming more aware of environmental issues and how their habits and behaviors are affecting the planet, so sustainability is a major concern for them and they’re growing more interested in cleaner and safer alternatives to traditional cars which are a major pollution contributor. New generations are more environmentally conscious and EVs give car buyers the opportunity to do their part and reduce their carbon footprint. 

Besides, if going green isn’t a strong enough incentive for consumers, the fact that fossil fuel prices will go up in the future as we’re going to run low on resources will push them to choose electric cars eventually. 

Owning vs alternative transportation

Stemming from the same sustainability concerns, we see another change in consumers’ behavior and that is a lower interest in owning a car. Younger people especially are less preoccupied with the idea of owning a car. They tend to be more open to alternative means of transport, such as public transport, carpooling or car hiring as a way to reduce traffic jams and pollution. It’s not unusual for them to combine different transport methods to get from point A to point B and they don’t see any inconvenience in doing so. 

Apart from conscious consumption, young people are also reluctant to buy a car because of the large investment it requires. This will probably push manufacturers to come up with more affordable car options in the future, so they can win back this segment of consumers. 

Transparent buying process 

Car buyers these days are more informed than ever. They can’t be easily persuaded by car dealers into buying a car because they already come prepared with a wealth of knowledge and old selling tactics have no effect on them. What they expect when entering a dealership is talking to someone with whom they can consult. For example, a car buyer looking into Lincoln SUVs options will expect to have an honest and open conversation with the sales representative to help him find a suitable solution. Transparency is a value they really appreciate when it comes to brand interaction and buying process. Aggressive selling methods will only drive them away. 

Online shopping journey 

It’s probably no mystery where car buyers get most of their information: the almighty Google. When looking to buy a vehicle, much of the research is done online. With so many resources at their disposal, they have the luxury to gather all the information they require from the comfort of their home. What’s more, consumers now want to complete part of the buying process on the internet as well, so they don’t waste their time sitting in a dealership, waiting for the paperwork to be done. As a result, there are less people visiting dealerships these days, which puts a lot of pressure on dealerships since they have to work harder to draw customers and ensure an excellent experience that is well worth their time. 

Higher expectations

Modern car buyers are used to getting what they want, when they want it and that makes them a hard to please category. They’ve got information at their fingertips, endless resources, countless options, low tolerance for mistakes and zero patience. If this description makes them sound a bit spoiled, that’s because they are. They expect nothing but the best and they’re less forgiving when it comes to errors or brands that fail to meet their expectations. That leaves car makers and suppliers in a tough spot, looking for new methods to meet their increasing demands. 

But if we were to focus on the main points that define their most important needs, we can identify three factors. The first is affordability as consumers want automotive manufacturers to provide them with cheaper solutions, but without compromising on quality. Safety is another major concern since all the technology we have at our disposal can and should make driving safer than ever. Last but not least, sustainability continues to be a direction that more and more car buyers are ready to embrace. 

Automation concerns 

EVs are exciting for so many reasons, but autonomous vehicles have that Sci-Fi vibe going on that can spark up an even bigger interest. How amazing would it be to simply get in your car, choose a destination and then sit back and relax? But as thrilling as it might sound, there are many obstacles that stand in the way of turning this scenario into reality. And what counts the most is that consumers are still not ready for it, due to obvious and justified safety concerns. Manufacturers will have to perfect the technology and find solutions for all the safety issues self-driving cars pose for car buyers to open up to the concept.

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