Car Buying Trends for Millennials

woman shops online for car

While COVID-19 brought about some shifts in car buying trends, automotive brands have managed to adapt by implementing incentive programs, making contactless service available and transitioning the car buying experience from in-person to online.

Even though online car shopping has gained popularity due to the pandemic, the appreciation for the in-person car dealership experience remains, particularly amongst millennials, who made up 23 percent of car buyers in 2020, according to Cox Automotive.

In-Person vs. Online Car Buying

A recent FICO study found that while 82 percent of millennials prefer visiting the car dealership, they are more likely to consider other online channels compared to any other age group. While this is good news for in-person dealerships, the demand for an online car shopping experience continues to be a growing trend that dealers shouldn’t take lightly.

Millennial Car Buying Purposes

Ninety-one percent of millennials purchase vehicles for commutes and recreational purposes, according to the FICO survey. Eighty-four percent of older millennials (ages 33-40) own a car, as they have been in the job market for some time and have secured economic stability. Approximately half of younger millennials (ages 24-32) don’t own a car, but according to a recent Autotrader survey, 73 percent said they intend to purchase a car within a year or so.

Millennial Car Shopping Habits

According to Autotrader, millennial car shoppers spend over 17 hours researching a vehicle purchase before buying one, and 71 percent said they need to be aware of all possible vehicle choices. Third-party sites are the top source for 82 percent of millennial car shoppers, and 42 percent use a tablet or smartphone during the car shopping process.

Car Dealer Takeaways:

  • Brand awareness and a positive online experience is key.
    Because online channels play a significant role in millennial car shopping, it’s important for car dealers to share content that creates brand awareness and helps car shoppers along the research stage.
  • Mobile responsiveness is a must.
    A Facebook study found that 48 percent of mobile-first car buyers are millennials. This suggests that all your online platforms should be optimized for mobile users. According to a CDK Global report, “A majority of millennials said they wouldn’t wait more than five seconds for a page to load on a mobile device. In addition to slow load times, lack of mobile optimization, interactive features, and quality photos were the top complaints about mobile shopping. Essentially, Millennial shoppers expect to get the same quality shopping experience no matter what device they are using.”

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