Driving auto shoppers toward purchase

The decision to buy a new vehicle almost always begins with research into the various options. Then, you likely go for a test drive before narrowing down the choices in your consideration set. To anybody who recently bought a new car or truck, these steps will sound obvious. We wanted to dig deeper to arm our advertisers with how to reach these consumers. Our new infographic shares these insights.

Over a period of a few months, we surveyed consumers and studied internal Yahoo data to investigate the steps prospective buyers take throughout the shopping process. While the results reaffirm some common assumptions, they also reveal how consumers research and buy new vehicles.

For example, the majority of consumers begin to look for new cars within six months of purchase, with 40% beginning the process three months before deciding to buy. This window of time presents a clear opportunity for advertisers to reach prospective buyers.

Looking for a new car? Auto shopping research from Yahoo

Search signals give us a clue as to what people do throughout the research process:

  • Generic terms (e.g., buying a new car, where to buy a car) peak three months before purchase, when shoppers are looking to understand the landscape.
  • Selling terms (e.g., selling my used car, how to sell my car) peak six weeks before purchase, as prospective buyers seek to understand what their current vehicles might be worth—and how much they’re comfortable with spending on a new one.
  • Financial terms (e.g., car financing, auto insurance) peak one week before purchase, once consumers have narrowed down their options and explore whether they can afford their dream vehicle.

Shoppers are more likely to search for specific car brands, while those doing early research focus on more generic terms. Advertisers should generate awareness about their brand early on, when prospective buyers are more receptive to learning about the available options.