Internet-savvy consumers expect a personalized experience when shopping for a new car, and online marketers, car dealers, and manufacturers all have a role to play in delivering one, according to a pair of recent studies by Yahoo Canada.

“It’s no secret that personalization is the latest marketing game and digital platforms are getting us closer to consumer needs more than ever before,” Yahoo Canada sales data analyst Shannon Kelley wrote in a Sept. 14 blog post discussing the company’s 2015 and 2016 auto studies, which surveyed consumers intending to purchase and consumers who had recently purchased new cars, respectively.

Among other findings, the studies revealed that while desktop and laptop computers remain the prospective car buyer’s tool of choice, 61 per cent enjoy conducting research on their smartphones, with one third using their mobile devices in showrooms.

When it comes to the dealership experience, customers expect online access to pricing and inventory, Yahoo found, with cost unsurprisingly the most important factor in ultimately deciding which car to buy.

Other key findings include:

  • 80 per cent of Canadian consumers like to purchase their cars, while 20 per cent prefer to lease;
  • Pricing research is more important than visiting a dealership for consumers intending to buy a car, while the visit is more important for purchasers;
  • The majority of consumers look at three brands across two categories or less, with Canadians citing the same four favourite brands in both studies: Honda, Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai;
  • The top three activities among showroom-based mobile device users were comparing prices with other dealerships, reviewing vehicle specs… and looking up other dealership locations;
  • 44 per cent of consumers said they would use VR to test drive a car.

To the industry’s credit, auto manufacturers are especially good at using digital technology to anticipate and meet consumer needs, Kelley wrote, with new vehicle sales at an all time high in 2015 and thus far continuing to grow in 2016.

“More than ever, we have keen insights into the digital market behaviours of auto consumers,” she wrote. “Now is the time to leverage those insights.”

Yahoo released an infographic summarizing its findings, which you can check out below (click for a larger version).

Yahoo automotive marketing infographic

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