3 Myths About Future Car Buyers


You can buy just about anything these days with a thumb-swipe on a mobile device or a click of a mouse, and when it comes to buying cars, more and more of that is moving online, too - but not the whole process; and it appears most consumers want to keep it that way, as they see value in what a dealership salesperson brings to the table.

The Autotrader Car Buyer of the Future study, released Monday night, found that 84 percent of respondents want to purchase a car in person.

"You don't build value in a distributive price negotiation; you build value by talking about feature benefits," he added. "What we found is that 43 percent of all consumers want to go to the dealership. They want to learn more about those feature benefits. Now, they may want to learn about it in a slightly different way ... but ultimately, this is something that they value tremendously." 

Consumers view the dealership experience as a chance to validate what they learned online, while also getting more information on specials, offers, warranty and service, the study says. 

This notion that salespeople will be less important in the future is just one of three that Autotrader says its study dispels.

"Some commonly held beliefs about the future of car buying are that salespeople will be less important in the future; consumers don't want to negotiate; and that lowest price will always win. In fact, the study shows the opposite," the company said in the study's news release.

The second commonly held belief on Autotrader's list is negotiation - more specifically, that consumers just don't want any part of it.

However, the study found that more than half (56 percent) actually would rather negotiate. What's more, millennials and women, in particular, will take negotiation over flat rate pricing.

"This is a result of the fact that consumers do not yet trust flat rate pricing, and they feel that they have to negotiate to get a fair price," Autotrader said.

Third on the list deals with price - in that lowest is always best. But, again, more than half (54 percent) of respondents said they would choose to purchase from the store that offered a better experience than one that offered the best price. This helps show that even though price is vital, "the dealership experience can trump lowest price," the company said.

And consider this: more consumers were willing to drive farther to work with a salesperson they liked (73 percent) than to get the lowest price (65 percent).