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Study: New-car buyers are purchasing more out of want, not need

March 13, 2015
Sixty-one percent of new-car buyers in a recent study said they purchased their latest vehicle due to a want, not a need, suggesting the increasing health of the automotive market.
The 2015 Automotive Buyer Influence Study, performed by, surveyed more than 2,300 new- and used-car buyers to understand their car-shopping and -buying journeys.
"This is another great indicator for the overall state of the automotive industry," said Jared Rowe, president of "When consumers start to make big purchases out of desire rather than necessity, they are clearly showing more confidence about their personal financial situations." 
The study also revealed that the majority of new-car buyers researched vehicles first, and then set their budget, with 64 percent of recent new-car buyers reporting that they researched cars first and then set their budgets. This further drives home the point that they are not feeling as cash strapped as they likely were in previous years. 
When new-car buyers begin the shopping process, 63 percent do not have a specific make or model in mind. To help them develop and refine their considerations sets, the majority of new car buyers — 75 percent — use the Internet, according to the 2015 study. By the time they first visit a dealership, 77 percent of new-car buyers purchase the vehicle they have in mind. 
"With the majority of new-car buyers entering the market because they want a new car, and the majority of those buyers being highly influenceable at the beginning of the car-shopping process, dealers and automakers have many reasons to be excited," Rowe said.
"The key to reaching and influencing those shoppers is to get the right message in front of them at the right time and in the right places."
According to the 2015 study, new-car buyers spend 16.9 hours in total shopping, with 70 percent of that time spent online. 
While online, 66 percent of new-car buyers use third-party sites, 64 percent use OEM sites and 61 percent use dealer sites. Third-party sites are seen as the most useful websites, with 37 percent of new-car buyers saying that third-party sites were the most useful to them. OEM sites were rated as most useful by 34 percent of new car buyers, and 19 percent cited dealer sites as the most useful. 
Social media was ranked as most useful by less than 1 percent of persons in the study.