3 consumer trends for 2023 that every automotive dealer should know

One of the most important trends affecting dealers is that today’s customers want to engage. They don’t like just being talked to any more; instead, they want to have a conversation and develop a relationship with the dealership before making a purchase. In a recent McKinsey & Company report, 7 out of 10 customers said they expect dealers to make the shopping experience personal if they want to win their business.

1. Make Marketing a Conversation

To be successful in 2023, dealers need to prioritize connecting with their customers and focus on creating personal relationships through positive, digital interactions. This could be done through comments on social media posts, responding to reviews left on the company website, or sending reminder emails and texts about upcoming services. 

However, the most effective way for dealers to connect quickly with customers is through live chat. A recent Statista survey found more than half of millennials regularly use chat to contact dealerships with the majority of them starting their purchase journey online.

Key Takeaway: Customers are no longer satisfied with listening to and viewing ads; they want to have a conversation and build a relationship with dealerships before they purchase. Dealerships should actively create opportunities for connection and engagement via chat features and positive digital experiences.

2. Increase Your Focus on Pre-owned (Recommerce) Marketplaces

The car-buying journey has moved online. GE Capital Retail Bank’s annual shopper study discovered 81% of consumers are now researching products at home. This is especially true for major purchases like automobiles where the research process can take as much as 79 days on average. Additionally, Cox Automotive reports 3 out of 4 customers are open to completing their entire automobile purchase and financing online too. 

As consumers move online in 2023, so should dealers. Particular emphasis should be placed on online marketplaces, especially recommerce marketplaces like OfferUp. Our 2022 Recommerce Report revealed 63% of shoppers check secondhand options first for products they need before looking to purchase brand new. In fact, many of these shoppers are browsing inventory as part of their initial research. This is the perfect opportunity for dealers to reach audiences early on in their purchasing journey and provide valuable assistance that can help drive traffic to their dealership. 

Key Takeaway: Consumers are moving online and so should dealers. Focus your advertising efforts on online marketplaces, especially recommerce marketplaces like OfferUp where potential customers start researching products before buying.

3. Provide a Digital-First Shopping Experience

One of the most significant trends emerging in today’s market is customers putting greater weight on the purchasing experience. 88% of shoppers agree that the experience a company provides is as, if not more, important than its product. In the automotive industry specifically, Cox Automotive discovered 2 out of 3 customers place more value on their experience than price when making a decision to purchase. 

So what does a great experience include? For starters, it replaces the “salesperson” with “product specialist.” Customers want trusted advisors who can help them learn more about each product and make an informed decision, not someone who’s just trying to make a sale. Dealers can help meet this need by ensuring all of their staff are kept up-to-date on industry developments. The more knowledgeable your employees are, the better equipped they will be to assist your customers. 

Another trend to be aware of in the realm of customer experience is the use of augmented reality (AR) / virtual reality (VR) technology to provide a more robust online experience. Some dealerships are beginning to offer virtual test drives and 3D modeling to help buyers preview inventory ahead of time. In Italy, a survey found 7 out of 10 customers were willing to purchase a car after participating in a virtual test drive or watching a 360-degree video without seeing the car in person. While this use of technology is very new, initial acceptance rates are promising. 

In addition to cutting-edge AR/VR technology, dealers can also improve the online experience by using AI and machine learning to offer more technological channels for communication with clientele. J.D. Power reported 42% of customers preferred to work with dealerships that offered clear methods for communication like online scheduling, sending text reminders about appointments and estimated pickup times, and providing online payment options. Dealers who invest in these small operational changes will reap huge rewards in 2023 from happy customers who value being given a great experience before and after the initial car purchase. 

Key Takeaway: Experience is becoming the number one factor influencing whether or not a customer makes a purchase. Dealers should invest in training and educating their employees to improve in-person and online user experiences.

4. Reach Your Customers on OfferUp

OfferUp is the leading mobile marketplace with more than 11 million monthly car buyers and sellers, 100+ million downloads, and over 200,000 cars sold on the marketplace every month. It’s a golden opportunity for dealers to reach potential customers at the earliest stages of the buying process. 

To learn more about OfferUp and how its marketplace can help your dealership drive more sales, check out our Autos page and reach out to our team today! Start today and you could receive up to 35% off your plan.