Strong online presence is vital, but role of dealership remains key – NFDA

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, has announced the findings of consumer vehicle purchasing patterns in the UK.

The Consumer Attitude Survey was commissioned by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, and executed by Public Knowledge, a leading market research agency. This is the ‘Dealer Insight’ of the seventh edition of the survey, which polled 2,000 consumers across the UK in a 15-minute online survey.

The NFDA Consumer Attitude Survey revealed that 75 per cent of car purchases, for cars under seven years old, are made at franchised dealers; 14 per cent are made at independent garages; 5 per cent at used car supermarkets and 5 per cent from private sellers. When considering only brand-new cars, 93 per cent of them were bought at franchised dealerships.

The survey found that 50 per cent of consumers visit a car dealership website before purchasing a vehicle. However, surprisingly, 32 per cent of respondents bought a car from a physical franchised dealership without using any dealer, manufacturer or other car sales website before buying the car. Buyers of prestige brands are significantly more likely to visit manufacturer websites, 46 per cent, and research in papers/magazines, 13 per cent, than those buying volume brands, 32 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

The findings showed that 63 per cent of consumers intend to purchase their next vehicle from a franchised dealer showroom and 9 per cent from a franchised dealer website.

These findings mirrored the latest figures from research body ICDP which showed that the number of consumer visits to physical dealerships as well as the total number of dealerships visited by consumers in 2019 were higher than the previous years.

Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA, said, “The survey has revealed a growing trend towards online retailing and the importance of the customer experience online going forward. As a result, a strong digital strategy is vital in today’s market, but consumers continue to see physical dealerships as an essential element of their buying journey.

“With the range of new vehicles coming to the market and their modern, innovative features, consumers are more likely to want to see a car before they buy it. Additionally, consumers place significant value on their interaction with retailers, where they look for advice and reassurance.

“It is encouraging to see that retailers continue to play a key role in informing consumers and helping them find the vehicle that best suits their needs.”


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