Automakers: Who Is Your Real Competition?

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While some consumers never set foot into a dealership before they buy, we wondered about those that do shop around for a new car? Which automakers are they visiting, and what would that tell us about competition between brands?

We looked at unique visitors to auto dealerships across the US to determine which makes are truly competing against one another for sales. For this analysis, we assumed that the last dealership visited was the make eventually purchased. For example, Chevy buyers were most likely to be seen at Dodge, Mercedes, Lexus, Honda and Audi dealerships.  Read on for more examples…

What surprised us? We found more crossover between standard and premium automakers than we first expected. It looks like new car buyers at Chevrolet, Ford and Subaru often visit more aspirational brands during their new car search.

Would we see the same crossover among buyers of luxury cars?

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Not so much. Luxury auto buyers largely consider other premium makes during the buying process.

We also noticed that some brands have more prospective customers visit multiple automakers than others. Over 20% of visitors to Honda and Buick, for example, were observed at other auto dealerships. Less than 10% of visitors to GMC and Jeep were seen elsewhere.

What can Marketers Do with This Information?

Find your competition – By understanding where your buyers go during the new car purchase process, you can identify your real competition.  Conventional wisdom says that Ford and Chevrolet (or BMW and Mercedes) compete for buyers – but our analysis suggests that’s not really the case.

Refine your message – When you know your competition, you can find new and improved ways to stand out. Which models or features are your competitors’ talking about? What are their financing terms? What could you add or change to make your message resonate?


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