Customer Journey at car purchase

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More than 900 touchpoints: How does the Customer Journey for buying a car work?

What are the phases of the customer journey when buying a car?

When buying a car, customers go through five different phases as part of the customer journey. First, they select their preferred brands, models and equipment features and then usually limit their selection to four different brands. Intensive research is usually followed by a visit to the dealer and, at the same time, an appointment for a test drive. At the same time, interested parties continue to make enquiries online and increasingly ask those around them, such as acquaintances, relatives, friends or work colleagues, for their experiences and personal opinions. Finally, the payment details are discussed before the purchase is made. In total, the purchase process takes up to 24 weeks. On average, 14 brands are considered at the beginning, only 6 of them are shortlisted and the decision ultimately depends on two brands.

What questions does the customer ask when buying a car?

Since buying a car is a long-term investment, potential buyers ask themselves the following questions:
- Which car is the best?
- Does the car meet my requirements?
- Can I afford the car?
- Where can I buy the car?
- Do I get a subjectively good offer?

What information channels do customers use when buying a car?

When looking for a new car, interested buyers use various information channels. A Google study shows that potential car buyers go through 900 touchpoints in the time before the purchase, 497 of them three months before the purchase. The absolute distribution is as follows:
- 139: Searches on Google
- 14: Videos on YouTube
- 89: Images
- 69: Interactions with various dealer websites
- 186: Interactions with various manufacturer websites

The study also shows that around 71 percent of touchpoints are mobile. Among the social networks, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are preferred. The relative distribution is as follows:
- 40 percent: Facebook
- 28 percent: Whatsapp
- 17 percent: Instagram
- 17 percent: Twitter
- 16 percent: Messenger
- 10 percent: Snapchat

As a rule, however, interested parties do not only use Facebook or Twitter, but several sources in their research. Among car buyers over 55 years of age, personal discussions are considered the undisputed winner in information gathering, with 96 percent of them using Facebook or Twitter.

In which phases of the car purchase are advertising measures appropriate?

It is particularly relevant for marketing managers to know in which phase of the customer journey the interested parties are sensitive to advertising measures. Before visiting dealers, potential buyers are prepared to deal with sent advertising. Even during the initial discussions with the dealers, customers are open to marketing campaigns, as the need for information is usually particularly high in this phase. However, if customers are already in the buying phase, advertising is more likely to be perceived as annoying and disturbing.

When are customers ready to buy a car?

In contrast to general assumptions, the interested parties usually decide on a certain brand or even a certain model in a shorter time than assumed. Ten to twelve weeks before buying a car, only 40 percent are certain in their decision which car to buy. Three weeks before the purchase, however, the rate is already at 65 percent. Manufacturers and dealers should definitely take these findings into account, as this knowledge gives them the chance to recommend more expensive models at the right time.

Any more questions? Would you like more information? We look forward to hearing from you.

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