New report reveals changing car buying habits

A new report into the UK’s car buying habits has revealed the impact that technological and generational changes are having on the country’s motorists – and the people they buy their cars from. The 2016 Car Buyers’ Census, compiled from an online YouGov poll by the search engine Carsnip, revealed a growing ‘generation gap’ among drivers, with many younger people embracing new technologies and peer-reviews to make the task of purchasing a car easier than ever. According to the survey, so-called ‘Millennial and ‘Generation Z’ drivers were twice as likely to use online car search when buying a car compared to over-55s.

Three quarters of all respondents said they now trusted experts, car forums or word of mouth over the big classified ad sites when buying a car, while 18-24 year olds were less than half as likely as over-55s to visit a dealer in person.

Alastair Campbell, CEO of Carsnip, said: “We commissioned the survey because we wanted to understand what customers want from the motor industry now, and use that knowledge to better inform the future of car buying.

“We spoke to drivers right across the UK to get a broad view of the challenges and opportunities that technology and changing habits present. Big data is one thing, but it needs to be combined with actions if it’s to make a big difference. I hope this Census can do both, and provide real insight into car buying habits in 2016.”

The poll asked people a number of questions, including whether they had used traditional car sites like Autotrader or Motors the last time they bought a car. More than two in five (44 per cent) over-55s said they hadn’t, compared to 22 per cent of 18-45 year olds. Nationally, the figure stood at 30 per cent.

When asked which source of advice they valued most, 39 per cent of 18-24 year olds said ‘word of mouth’, compared to 25 per cent of over-55s.

The survey found that a third of all used car sales among over-55s happen away from search websites, meaning that a large minority of this age group was yet to use dealer or search websites when researching or buying a car.

Dan Freedman, director of motor development, Direct Line Group, said: “These results are the strongest indication yet that a generational change in buying habits is taking place among UK car buyers. Younger buyers trust recommendations and expert advice much more, a trend reflected across all consumer markets.

“The findings also show that there’s more than just one type of car buyer now, so new, personalised, peer-reviewed approaches to online car search are needed. People care about different things depending on what stage of life they’re at. An 18-year old might care more about insurance costs, a 35-year old might need a family car and a 55-year old might want the sports car they’ve always dreamed of.”

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