High Gear: What does the buyer journey look like for today’s auto consumer?

For many generations of auto buyer, brand loyalty, legacy, and reputation have played a big role in their purchase decisions. In the past, consumers had firm ideas about the makes and models they preferred at the outset of their buyer journey.

Today’s buyer operates differently. 

Gone are the days of hard and fast notions about brand, and in its place is a curiosity for different experiences, and a willingness to take their time with their decision. Today’s shopper spends 61% of all their shopping activity researching online, and the majority of them (59%) are open to considering multiple vehicles in their journey. 1

The road is open. That means more opportunity for more brands to woo consumers than ever before.

So what does the buyer journey look like for today’s auto consumer? That’s the question we set out to answer in tandem with location data company Factual.

Here’s a glimpse of what we found.

Snapchatters auto journey stands out from the rest

While we found that today’s auto shoppers are more open and informed across the board, we did find a few nuances specific to Snapchatters. 

Compared to non-Snapchatters, for example, Snapchatters take more test drives, are more likely to visit multiple dealerships, and will consider a broader set of auto brands. 2

Which brands might those be? Using dealership footfall as a proxy for consideration, Factual found Ford has wide appeal across the US, with its dealerships seeing the most footfall nationally. 3 Among Snapchatters, though, it has competition: 4

Upward mobility has its appeal

Buyers may not have hard and fast rules about the make and model of vehicles they’ll consider, but shopping within a particular brand’s portfolio has appeal—especially if it means moving up in status.

For a number of brands covered in the study, their #1 competitive dealership was a brand in their automotive family, many of which were higher end. 3

Today’s shopper considers their next auto purchase holistically

According to our report, a shopper’s choice of vehicle aligns with a greater set of lifestyle preferences. For example, Factual found that Volvo shoppers are also fond of making improvements to their homes, over-indexing on visits to stores like Pier 1 Imports, Ikea, and Ashley’s Furniture. 3 Among Snapchatters who shop Volvo, they tend to be health enthusiasts who like cycling and yoga...though they’re not above indulging either. 5 Food for thought as auto brands try to engage this new kind of shopper.

Download High Gear: How today’s car consumer navigates the auto buyer journey

Download the full report to see how else today’s shopper approaches their next auto purchase.

Note: The data and methodology that drive the following insights are consistent with our philosophy: help show Snapchatters content they care about while protecting their privacy. Our Foot Traffic Insights only consists of aggregate user data. Privacy has always been a priority at Snapchat. To learn more, visit our Privacy Center.

Ariana Battle from Team Snapchat
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