Three Car Buying Trends that next-generation consumers expect from dealerships

While it is reasonable to assume that some of the adjustments, we have had to make are temporary, the data shows that consumers have permanently altered the way they buy vehicles - and dealership marketing is being revolutionized as a result. No longer is posting a vehicle online enough. In fact, many car buyers today are now shopping for vehicles on “non-Auto” specific channels using apps and services that offer more utility.

Moreover, today’s car buyers are younger, more technologically sophisticated, and want dealerships to deliver bespoke, convenient experiences that allow them to “buy” a car versus being sold a car. So, what does this mean for you?  

To help OfferUp’s Verified Dealers connect with car buyers on a more meaningful level, we’ve identified three trends that every dealership should know about and act on in 2021 and beyond. Why? Because dealerships who adopt the trends outlined below are aligning their business to the next generation of car buyers who are already the largest car buying demographic in the U.S. 

Browse and Buy

One of the most significant shifts to come out of 2020 was consumers’ preference of what we call “Browse and Buy” shopping to replace traditional window shopping when seeking inspiration for their next purchase. For example, Google noted in a recent Think for Google report that image searches saw dramatic growth during 2020 as users look for new ways to “visualize” their purchases.

Like Google image searches, marketplaces like OfferUp saw exponential growth as users embraced apps that leverage image “Feeds,” enabling them to shop a seemingly endless variety of products in a single view. In doing so, users view goods they searched for directly alongside alternate or similar options that inspire them to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole.  

Car buyers are habitually finding inspiration on their everyday apps, underlining the importance and necessity of your dealership being discoverable on these platforms. Case in point, the average OfferUp user uses the app more than 19x every month shopping across a curated experience specific to their personal taste. Dealerships have a pivotal opportunity to act on as 1 out of 4 car buyers on OfferUp is using the app exclusively to research and purchase their vehicles. In fact, 2 out of 3 car buyers don’t know what type of car they want when they start their buying journey on OfferUp. Dealerships have the power to influence consumer preferences and funnel that attention to your listings.

Key Takeaway

Dealerships should look to be present during key decision-making moments across the car buyer journey. So, not only should you provide high-quality information related to your vehicles, but also work to serve up inspiration-based content to drive curiosity in your brand and vehicles. 


OfferUp isn’t just any marketplace. It’s a marketplace that is driven to create unique and meaningful experiences between buyers and sellers, hyper-focused on sustainability and making our lives more purposeful each day. As we have spent more time at home and in our communities over the last 18-months, we have reevaluated what’s meaningful, focusing more on ourselves and the brands that represent us. That being said, consumers are trying apps for their utility, but they become life-long customers because these brands represent their principles and support causes important to them. 

Consumers are no longer passive, jumping from brand to brand based solely on the best deal, rather identifying businesses that align with their values and supporting them with their dollars. For example, in a recent study, Google showed that global search growth for terms such as “ethical online shipping” and “sustainable online shopping” increased more than 600% year-over-year. That is more growth than the internet was seeing in the late ‘90s. OfferUp’s most recent Recommerce Report for 2021 shows that 2 out of 3 American homes have resale goods and furniture inside their home. Or, that “Resale Marketplaces” were the fastest-growing channels for retails services and dealerships. 

As a dealership, today’s car buyer is now aligning their purchase decisions with their values, and finding ways to position your dealership alongside marketplaces like OfferUp can be a key differentiator in 2021 and beyond.

Key Takeaway

Today’s car buyer is socially conscious, and surface-level statements and “greenwashing” are no longer good enough. Share details about what your dealership stands for and partner with marketplaces like OfferUp to build more loyalty and trust over the long-term with your car buyers. 


One of the most significant trends to rise out of the pandemic of 2020 is convenience. We all see stores such as Target begin to offer curbside pickup or new, digitally-enabled services that mitigate consumers’ safety concerns. After operating this way for 18-months, consumers have come to rely on this newfound flexibility. Google searches for “curbside pickup” increased more than 3,000% year-over-year. In addition to pickup options and flexibility, one of the conveniences that many consumers have taken to is the ability to use their mobile device to not only schedule times for pickups, order goods, and services but also to communicate via mobile messaging.

Today more than 90% of consumers have rated chat as their preferred method of communication and, according to a recent Google Forrester research study, consumers are now including “chat” communication as a required feature in their decision-making process. Why chat? Why now? 

With all the conveniences that have flooded the market, one of the effects it has created is that consumers are now more empowered to control when, where, and how they interact with businesses. Unlike traditional methods of communication like phone and email, consumers like having direct access to your dealership via live chat, the ability to control the conversation, and having the option to “come and go” as they please. Consumers now control their own car buying journey and as dealerships, we need to align with their “convenience” expectations.

Key Takeaway

Today’s car buyer expects dealerships to offer choice and flexibility in how they research, engage, and purchase a vehicle. To meet their expectations, dealerships need to transform their offerings for consumer convenience and highlight those capabilities across the buyer journey. 

Update Your Car Buyer Journey

OfferUp isn’t just the leading mobile marketplace with more than 20+ million monthly users, 100+ million downloads, and millions of cars being sold in its marketplace every single year. It’s an opportunity for dealerships to reach car buyers unavailable anywhere else. In fact, OfferUp is the only marketplace that enables dealerships to immediately adopt all 3 trends listed above out of the box. 

  1. OfferUp enables your dealership to be visible in ways that aren’t possible anywhere else. Not only are your vehicles and listings shown to users at the exact time that they are searching for vehicles like yours, OfferUp’s unique image “feed” delivers bespoke buyer experiences that are unique to that user. No two app users have the same feed, and dealers who create listings that are clear, concise, and engaging can create unique experiences with car buyers. 

  2. Today’s car buyer wants a reason to support your dealership. By partnering with a leading marketplace focused on sustainability and recommerce, you can build more trust and loyalty with your car buyers and strengthen your dealership’s brand.

  3. Flexibility and convenience are required. Give your car buyers the ability to connect with your dealership in the way that they want to. Mobile. Chat. Real-time. While it can be uncomfortable not having the control you once had, car buyers will embrace your dealership if you can give them the convenience and options they desire.

To learn more about OfferUp, our sustainability efforts, and how its marketplace can help your dealership drive more sales, check out our Autos page and let our team know.