COVID-19 Digital Shopping Study

Exploring the impact of coronavirus on automotive consumers' purchase intent and digital journey

Updated May 28, 2020

More car shoppers are ready to transact now as they ease into the new normal

As governments develop plans to reopen businesses in their states and remove social-distancing restrictions, the percentage for delaying sales is dropping and almost half of new vehicle shoppers will be ready to transact within a month.

Delaying Vehicle Purchase/Lease
Anticipated delay in vehicle purchase?
March 20-22
Up to 2 months
3-6 months
6+ months
Not sure
April 25-27
Up to 2 months
3-6 months
6+ months
Ready to purchase within
a month of restrictions
being lifted

Incentives remain the most important to new vehicle shoppers and half will transact faster if they find the right deal

Triggers that could accelerate vehicle purchase
(among new vehicle consumers delaying purchase)
April 4-6
April 25-27
Coronavirus cases start to decline
Governments start to lift quarantines
I find a deal or incentive I cannot refuse
My personal/family employment situation looks secure
Schools and businesses re-open
A promising treatment for Coronavirus emerges
Ability to purchase completely online

SUV shoppers (52%) are significantly more likely than CAR shoppers (47%) to select “deal or incentive”

39% of Luxury shoppers are more likely to purchase if they find a deal they can’t refuse

Marketing the right incentives to the right consumers is vital at this time as 9-out-of-10 new vehicle shoppers expect a good deal

Since most of the new car deals that recently rolled out revolves around zero-percent financing, almost all new vehicle shoppers believe that now is the best time to get a great deal.

Type of "Favorable Terms" Shoppers Expect to Receive

The final sales price
The interest rate or APR
The amount required for a down payment
Add-ons (free or reduced-price maintenance programs)
The amount offered for a trade-in

The expectation of good deals has caused half of new vehicle shoppers to rethink their budgets and down payments.

Reconsidered their vehicle price range and expect it to decline
Reconsidered their down payment and expect to it to decline

Most appealing special incentives

Shoppers are also looking for more than just competitive incentives, rebates/assistance cash, low to no APR and assurance programs.

Other incentives shoppers want offered:

Longer test drive (24 hours)
Better trade-in value for my vehicle
Loyalty/rewards program (repeat customer incentive)
Free vehicle maintenance
Extend the warranty on my new vehicle
Free feature and accessory upgrades
As “health” remains a key concern, 36% of shoppers are more likely to consider air quality features inside their vehicle

Interest in electric vehicles has grown since COVID-19

Shoppers who were previously interested in an electric vehicle are now more motivated than ever to buy. Not only do these intenders think they can get a good deal, but they believe electric vehicles will allow for less touchpoints at gas stations and reduce vehicle servicing.

1 out of 3

new vehicle shoppers say avoiding the gas station and reducing service is an appealing aspect to EV ownership

New Vehicle Shoppers:

Change in EV Interest


Pre-COVID 31%

Luxury Shoppers:

Change in EV Interest


Pre-COVID 52%

Several OEM brands have experienced significant lifts in share after announcing their incentive and relief programs

Oem shares of new car shops on kelley blue book
OEMs that have incorporated incentive programs in their creative are also seeing a lift in ad engagement

Lift in engagement

Click through rate
Feb 1 - Mar 11
Mar 12 - Mar 31

New-vehicle shoppers and those closer to purchase are open to switching brands if the deal makes sense

Likelihood to switch brands if better incentives are offered:
of new vehicle shoppers would switch brands
of 3-month intenders would switch brands

Truck buyers are most willing to switch brands with the right incentive

Switch truck brands
Switch from a truck to an SUV
Switch from a midsize truck to a fullsize truck
Consider a new truck over a used truck
Switch from a fullsize truck to a midsize truck
Switch from a truck to a car

In today's reality, shoppers are definitely open to completing their entire purchase online

2 out of 3
shoppers are more likely to buy the vehicle 100% online

of consumers state they are more likely to complete steps of the purchase process online due to COVID-19*

A critical tipping point will be reached where it is much more important to have tools and resources available to help shoppers not only seamlessly research and shop, but also purchase their cars online. Consumers have always wanted quicker interactions during their automotive experience, and now, with more online tools available to them such as scheduled test drives, pick-up and delivery, their willingness to completing the entire vehicle purchase online is accelerating exponentially.

Overall, shoppers are continuing to research and shop during this very important time, and there is still time to influence them while they delay. Leverage our trusted brands and first-party data to put an integrated, personalized and dynamic message in front of them when it matters most.

COVID-19 digital shopping study

The first online survey was fielded April 4-5, 2020 among 1,000 consumers. The second online survey was fielded April 25 – 27, 2020 among 1,125 Total Consumers (575 New Vehicle Shoppers)
Ages 18-70 years old
Shoppers must intend to purchase within the next 6 months

Interested in becoming a client
or ready to learn more?

Please call 1-877-627-9585 or complete the form below.
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