Cox Automotive on Feb. 23 released its 11th annual Car Buyer Journey Study.
The extensive study is based on a survey of consumers who bought or leased a new or used vehicle and is designed to offer a detailed look at the vehicle buying process in America, from start to finish.
While the global COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted nearly every measure of life, the Car Buyer Journey (CBJ) Study suggests the automobile buying process improved during the prolonged downturn.
Both new- and used-vehicle buyers in 2020 report the process took less time and was more efficient than before. Overall, buyer satisfaction reached an all-time high in 2020.
The Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study: Pandemic Edition involved a survey of 3,016 shoppers who bought a vehicle between mid-March and September 2020 and used the internet during the buying process.
Identifying the consumers who were buying cars in 2020 is key to understanding the latest Car Buyer Journey Study findings. The average vehicle buyer last year was 50 years old and had a reported income above $75,000.
The above-average income was particularly true with new-vehicle buyers: 70% of new-car buyers in 2020 had incomes above $75,000. Conversely, the number of new-vehicle buyers with reported incomes below $75,000, at 30% in 2020, was down 3% from 2019, indicating that many lower-income buyers stayed out of the new-car market last year.
In 2020, 30% of vehicle buyers were identified by the Cox Automotive research team to be "Straight Shooters," a cohort of buyers more likely to be Gen X or Baby Boomer suburbanites who are experienced at car buying and careful with finances.
For comparison, in 2018, only 15% of vehicle buyers were in the Straight Shooter cohort. Less experienced, budget-conscious buyers tended to stay out of the market in 2020.
In 2020, Purchase Motivation Shifted
Vehicles buyers in 2020 were more likely to be motivated by "want," as opposed to "need," according to the CBJ Study.
Many buyers in 2020 were motivated by...