In the run-up to new registrations in September, now’s the time when all the stops come out and the industry makes its final ‘big push’. According to research by Google, the average car buyer takes 2.7 months from starting their research before making a purchase, and during the buying process they will make just 1.3 visits to retailer showrooms. We also know for a fact that seven out of eight factors that influence a car buying decision occur online – as discussed at the recent SMMT Summit.
The web is valuable real estate – especially at this time of the year. September accounts for a significant proportion of the total new cars registered each year, and capturing potential buyers earlier in the process is important – especially as over half won’t end up buying the car they set out to purchase. Tools like NetDirector CAP Valuations can play an important role. Looking across all those who run it, July posted the biggest monthly use to date – delivering 13,590 vehicle valuations to consumers. Moreover, looking back in the year, the previous peak was in January. The trend is clear; people want to ascertain the value of their existing car well in advance of making a dealership visit.
Finance will inevitably be playing on people’s minds too. FLA statistics show that in May, FLA member finance penetration was18% up year-on-year, which demonstrates people’s appetite to pay for their new cars on credit, especially with the many keen PCP deals that are available out there. Among those using Codeweavers finance calculators and also the Motor Credit Check product, online tracking shows that there has been an overall increase in the number of people utilising these tools.
We have also seen a significant increase in web visits across retailers in the last month or so – up approximately 20% over previous months. Of course, this is reflected each year, but overall visit volumes are significantly higher when compared to 2013. This indicates a continuing growth in the importance of the web for consumer research with more and more taking to digital to inform their buying decisions.
Ultimately, finding out what stock is out there via the web is now a given, but increasingly the desire is there among car buyers to find out the cost to change – a key measure of overall affordability – via the web as well. Alongside these digital stats, several dealer groups have also come out with some pretty strong financial results, many demonstrating increased profits and turnover. The clear strength of the UK’s motor industry is being demonstrated across the sector – from financials through to the number of jobs and apprenticeships and on to the very construction of vehicles and components themselves.
Indicators from almost all sources – whether digital, trends in car sales or manufacture – are that this September will be a strong one. We’re just hoping that this plays out in reality and will be watching closely for the results!