Industry Study Upends Perceptions

August 20th, 2019 by

A new industry study by Urban Science in conjunction with Harris Poll has upended several long-held perceptions about car buyers and dealerships:

  • The Internet will render dealers obsolete
  • Consumers do not trust dealerships
  • Young car buyers shop online
  • Buyers only visit 1-2 dealers before making a purchase

Product & Technology Consultant, Justin Bimonte congratulates a happy customer.

The study included 2000 shoppers and 2000 dealers. According to Automotive News, it demonstrated that the “vast majority of vehicle shoppers still want the dealership.” In fact, the study conclusively shows that the value a dealership provides is extremely important to consumers.

  • 81% of car buyers trust the information they receive from a franchised/OEM dealership
  • Younger buyers visit more dealerships before making a purchase than any other age group. (3.8 average for Gen Z and 2.4 for millennials vs. 2.1 for Baby Boomers
  • 83% said they would not buy vehicle without test driving it
  • 89% said the test drive was the most influential factor in their decision-making
  • 75% said they would not buy a car from anyone other than a dealer

The study not only challenges perceptions regarding dealerships, but the notion that vending machine car sales will replace dealerships.  Quality dealerships have worked very hard to change consumer perceptions and it seems to be paying off big time.

Reputable dealerships have embraced price transparency on their website and on third-party vendor sites. For example, on Kia Country’s website you will find manufacturer rebates, dealer discounts and other sales itemized; as well as, disclaimers that are both Kia and South Carolina compliant. You will also find independent 3rd party verification of fair local market pricing via Kelley Blue Book on each car listing.

Today’s cars are far more complex beasts mechanically, electronically and technologically. Product consultants at reputable dealerships receive extensive training and certification from the manufacturer and must continually work to keep their knowledge up-to-date. The average buyer does internet research before coming to the dealership, but it is no substitute for being able to ask questions or have a feature demonstrated by a product expert.

“There is no doubt that the traditional car buying process has changed.  It used to be considered more of a straight-line path, now there is no path at all; just a beginning and an end.  In that process, dealership interactions are still vital, including test drives, actual vehicle comparisons, engaging with dealership personnel.  Websites don’t sell cars, people do.  Kia Country has engaging, knowledgeable consultants who will answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to make the best decision regarding a vehicle purchase.  Recently, I a customer told me that they had researched several vehicles.  When they went to look, their shortlist did not match their expectations.  In the end, they came back to us because of the product knowledge we were able to share,” said Steve Appelbaum, General Manager.

Finally, consumers are able to verify before they buy. Dealer Reviews are available on multiple sources including Google, Facebook, and others. We are very proud to have top scores on all platforms including being DealerRater’s 2019 SC Dealer of the Year.  It’s important to look at the average review score, but also, how the dealership responds to reviews, both positive and negative.