What The New Purchase Journey Means For Automotive Marketers

January 9th, 2019 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

car purchase

Consumers aren’t shopping for cars the way they used to, so automotive manufacturers and dealerships need to adapt their marketing strategies.

At a recent ACA webinar, “Understanding today’s Canadian automotive consumer,” Comscore Canada sales manager Richard Nathans said that while automotive shoppers still predominantly buy cars at dealerships, the internet has flipped the purchase funnel.

“Before the internet, there was a fairly long purchase journey,” he said. “Individuals considered many car models, they visited a dealership and they visited it multiple times prior to making the car purchase.”

Now, buyers are researching online and typically know what they want before visiting a dealership. “[They] are only considering one to two car models. They’re looking up reviews, stats and prices prior to visiting the dealership… so time spent shopping has been slashed tremendously.”

To ensure marketers are talking to automotive consumers in the right places, Nathans shared a number of insights based on Comscore data. Among the key findings are:

  • 18.2 million unique visitors in Canada visited automotive-related websites in September 2018; 8.4 million were on desktop and 13 million were on mobile.¹
  • The average Canadian spends 35.8 minutes per month on automotive-related sites.¹
  • 4.1 million unique visitors went to an auto manufacturer site exclusively on their mobile device.¹
  • While more people are visiting automotive sites from mobile devices, desktop dominates total minutes spent, at 61% of time spent compared to 32% for smartphones and 7% for tablets. Nathans said this is due to the complexity of the research: consumers likely prefer desktop’s larger screen, tabbed browsers and easier-to-use keyboard when researching and designing cars online.²

Spotlight on automative sites

These insights suggest car shoppers are no longer limiting their information research to just the dealerships, desktop browsing or mobile. “From an advertising standpoint, it’s necessary to have a multi-platform strategy,” said Nathans.

On the demographics front, heavy consumers of auto content are mostly male, affluent and also heavy consumers of retail, news and business content online.

Comscore also looked at the interests and behaviours of “very likely” car buyers —those who are likely to buy a car in the next six months. Over half sometimes stream TV shows online and 58% prefer watching live TV. In addition, 60% do not subscribe to any magazines and 60% have not read a Sunday paper in the last month. Almost all (99.8%) get updates from news and information sites on their phones.

In addition, 65% of very likely car buyers³ are more likely to attend two to four movies a month and 66% are more likely to attend concerts.³ “This is important because perhaps there is some cross-channel marketing that [automotive marketers] want to do with cinemas… or get involved in sponsorship opportunities,” said Nathans.

For more information on today’s Canadian automotive shopper, please contact Comscore.


¹ Source: Comscore MMX® Multi-Platform, Automotive, Total Audience, September 2018, Canada
² Source: Comscore MMX® Multi-Platform and Mobile Metrix®, Total Audience, Automotive, November 2016 – September 2018, Canada
³ Source: Comscore Plan Metrix®, Consumer Target Profile: Very likely car buyer*, March 2017 3-month average, U.S *Very likely car buyer = Answered 5 (scale 1-5) when asked “How likely are you to buy a new or used vehicle in the next 6 months?”