New Car Buying Habits

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We looked at unique foot traffic to auto dealers across the US in 2018 to find out. Here’s what we discovered:

Most US consumers visit just one dealership when making a new car purchase. Almost 70% of in-market auto buyers are observed at just one brand. Just 16% visit 2 brands, and just 7% visit 4 or more brands during the new car purchase process.

In-Market Auto Buyers

Autos are one of those categories where you’d think most people would want to see and experience the vehicle first-hand – after all, for most of us, a new car is an expensive and infrequent purchase. While some brands appear to have more competition than others, it seems that people often do their new car research online and visit a dealership only for a test drive and to make the final purchase.

Auto Manufacturers: Brand Competition

% of Consumers Observed at 2+ Dealerships

Convenience also plays a part in the auto choices that US consumers make. People travel an average of just 20 miles to visit an auto brand. Whether it’s familiarity with the brand, or simply thinking ahead when it comes to future repairs, practicality seems to be a major factor in where new car buyers shop.

Miles Traveled to Auto Dealerships

Once people are in-market for a new car, they make their purchase relatively quickly. The average time between when we first see a prospective auto buyer and when we last see them at an auto dealership is just 25 days. This means that marketers have less than a month to get the attention of people who are actively looking for a new car.

Auto Buyers: Days in Market

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How can marketers use this information?

Find True In-Market Buyers

By the time someone is observed at a dealership – they are no longer browsing online out of curiosity and are actively looking to buy. Use this audience data to put your new car offers and timely promotions in front of in-market consumers before they truly make a final decision.

Improve the New Car Shopping Experience

It really appears that people try to avoid auto dealerships – and sales people – for as long as possible. What can brands do to remedy this pattern of avoidance and get buyers in the door? Where is there opportunity to upgrade the experience? Consider making changes to the new car buying process that encourage more consumers to shop in-person.

Consider the Full Customer Lifecycle

The customer journey doesn’t end with a new car purchase. What can automakers do to stay engaged with buyers once they’ve made their decision? How can brands make every aspect of that ongoing relationship – sales, service and support – as seamless as possible? Seek to create brand advocates that will remain loyal to you in the future, and at the same time encourage others to give your vehicle lineup a chance.

Using location intelligence and the in-market auto buying insights it provides, marketers can upgrade the end-to-end buying experience to reach more prospective buyers at the right time, and close more sales for their brand. To learn how to use this data in your business, book a meeting with us today.


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