Car Shopping in the Digital and Mobile Age: Facebook Studies


What’s it going to take to get you into that car, now that the process of shopping for vehicles has been altered by technology?

Facebook commissioned Ipsos MediaCT to study how the process of buying cars has changed for users 18 and up, and what marketers should do to counter those changes.

Ipsos MediaCT shared its findings in a Facebook IQ post, saying of the purchase cycle in general:

  • The average U.S. consumer considers 2.5 vehicle types and five brands.
  • 60 percent are “in the market” for a car for at least six months so that they can properly research their purchases.
  • Price range is an early decision, with other factors becoming more important close to the purchase date, including vehicle type, size, fuel type and brand.


Where can digital fit into the process? Facebook IQ wrote:

By the last month before purchase, most people have narrowed down the type, size, fuel source, brand and other vehicle features for their car-purchasing decision. In fact, 59 percent of average car buyers have narrowed down their choice of vehicle to one to two cars by the last month before purchase. But this last month is when people say they are exposed to the most car ads on digital. This signals an opportunity for marketers to reach and influence car buyers on digital earlier in the purchase cycle, when they are still trying to decide on their choice of vehicle and features.


As for mobile, Ipsos MediaCT found that:

  • 27 percent did most of their research on mobile devices, with that number jumping to 45 percent for millennials (18 through 34), 48 percent for Hispanics and 41 percent for those with annual household incomes of more than $200,000.
  • More than seven out of 10 consumers who did their research on mobile first felt overwhelmed by all of the available information.
  • They were three times more likely to find it difficult to get the information they needed to support their decisions than shoppers who did their research on other devices.
  • 65 percent of mobile-first car shoppers worried about making the wrong decision.

How should marketers approach this? According to Facebook IQ:

  • Reach people on digital earlier in the purchase process: By the last month before purchase, the average buyer has narrowed down their vehicle choices significantly. But the last month is when people are exposed to the most digital ads. Brands can use the power of digital to drive awareness, consideration and intent before buyers make up their minds.
  • Make it mobile: Mobile is where key audiences are doing their vehicle research. But these mobile-first buyers are struggling to find the right information they need to make their car purchase decisions. Brands can design experiences with mobile-first buyers in mind, providing information in bite-sized, easy-to-digest, highly visual formats. This is especially relevant for attracting key audiences like millennials, Hispanics, people with high household incomes and also future consumers, as mobile use for auto purchase intenders will only increase.

Readers: How did the findings by Ipsos MediaCT compare with your experiences when shopping for automobiles?

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