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For car buyers, it’s want over need

Three-quarters of consumers have already decided on their new car before visiting the dealership. – AFP/Relaxnews pic, January 27, 2015.Three-quarters of consumers have already decided on their new car before visiting the dealership. – AFP/Relaxnews pic, January 27, 2015.Most consumers are driven by their hearts, not their heads, when choosing a new car, according to new research.

Of the 2,300 new and used car buyers surveyed for the AutoTrader 2015 Automotive Buyer Influence Study, 61% of those looking for a brand new ride admitted that they bought the car they want rather than the one that they need.

However, picking which car to own is not an impulse buy or a snap decision – nearly two thirds (64%) of those shopping for a brand new car said that they do their homework first, researching different makes and models of car and then setting a budget. Almost as many (63%) admitted that they don't have a specific make or model of car in mind when they first set out to make a purchase.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first port of call for 75% of new car buyers doing research is the internet and by the time they arrive at the first dealership, 77% claimed that they purchased the first vehicle they had in mind.

That means that the salesperson has very little if any influence over the buyer's choice.

AutoTrader believes that the results provide more proof that in the US consumer confidence is continuing to grow, something that can only bode well for the automotive industry.

"When consumers start to make big purchases out of desire rather than necessity, they are clearly showing more confidence about their personal financial situations," said Jared Rowe, president of AutoTrader.com.

For the study, carried out in conjunction with IHS Automotive, AutoTrader polled 1,300 recent new and 1,000 recent used car buyers in the US who had purchased a vehicle within the last 12 months.

On average, new car buyers spend 16.9 hours shopping for the right vehicle and 70% of that time is spent online. Two thirds (66%) of consumers use third-party websites to help with the decision-making process and they are ranked as the most useful type of website by 37% of respondents.

Car companies' own sites are used by 64% of respondents and ranked most useful by 34% while 61% said that they used car dealers' websites as part of the research process. However, only 19% of respondents said that they find the sites useful. Still, that's better than social media: less than 1% of respondents ranked sites like Facebook as the most useful source of information when choosing a new car.

Back in December, researchers from San Francisco State University announced the results of their own study into what influences a consumer the most when choosing which car to buy. The research, led by associate professor of marketing, Minu Kumar, found that looks are more important than safety, green credentials or cost.

The small-scale study of 700 US consumers examined participants' opinions relating to 30 vehicles that were selected for the study based on their affordability, practicality and utility rather than their aesthetics. However, even though none of the vehicles in the study were known for their aesthetics, it was their appearance more than anything else that appealed to participants. – AFP/Relaxnews, January 27, 2015.

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