A New Market Emerges in the Wake of COVID-19

They say every cloud has a silver lining, and while COVID-19 has been a particularly dark cloud, there is a silver lining to be found for car dealerships. As we all know, the pandemic has created many unprecedented challenges to nearly every industry in the world, and the automotive sector is no exception.

What you might not know is that it has also opened up an entire generation of shoppers to the idea of buying their own vehicle. These are consumers who have grown up in a world where they have never needed their own car and never planned on buying one, at least for another 10 or 15 years. The rise of public transport, led most notably by the popularity and availability of rideshare services, has greatly lessened the need for younger shoppers to buy a vehicle, particularly in urban markets.

Now though, the viability of public transport has drastically decreased. In fact, only 10%1 of people feel safe using rideshares and public transportation like busses and subways. Where does this lead the young generation that depends on these services to get around? Right back to the dealership.

That trend continues for holiday and vacation travel. Many people that would normally fly to their destinations for holidays or vacations have turned to road trips in an effort to avoid airports. For example, the day after Thanksgiving in 2019 saw 2,882,9152 people going through TSA checkpoints. Compare that to 2020, and the number drops down to just 820,399. That’s over two million people who either opted out of traveling or hit the road rather than getting on an airplane. As you can see, this is an incredible opportunity to capture an entirely new market that has previously been uninterested in personal transportation.

New Shopping HabitsWith all of that in mind, these are not your traditional car shoppers, and the traditional methods of automotive marketing are not necessarily the right way to attract them to your dealership. Studies show that they are 1.2X3 more likely to use YouTube in the car buying process, and 1.4X more comfortable purchasing cars online. This makes YouTube and social media platforms especially important. These are not “car people”, so videos explaining features and advantages of different models can be especially effective to help them figure out which vehicle is right for them. These buyers grew up shopping on Amazon and see online buying as the norm, and with many consumers social distancing, it’s more important than ever to offer a robust set of online services. Online buying, home delivery, and video walkarounds are more important than ever.

Another thing to consider is that this is an entirely new experience for these car shoppers. Not only is it the first time they’ve purchased a vehicle, it’s most likely the first time they have financed anything. Many of them are understandably nervous about making such a big commitment, but that nervousness is tempered with excitement. Posting videos explaining the financing process or testimonials of other successful customers can go a long way toward easing concerns and generating excitement. Now more than ever these customers are looking for something to be excited about, and highlighting the celebratory aspect of buying your first car is a very effective strategy.

If you want to capture this emerging marketplace, you’re going to need the right tools. That’s where The Automotive Advertising Agency comes in. We’ve been studying the market and setting trends for decades. Our team of media experts and creative dynamos have the skill and know-how to deliver these customers to your dealership. Give us a call at 512-610-7300, or contact us at TheAutoAdAgency.com/contact/ for more information.

  1. Source: McKinsey & Co., Global COVID-19 Automotive Consumer Survey, first 2 parts of ongoing survey conducted May 9–May 17, 2020 and May 23–May 31, 2020, respectively, each with >8,000 respondents across 7 countries, May 2020. 
  2. Source: Transportation Security Administration, TSA checkpoint numbers for 2020 and 2019, https://www.tsa.gov/coronavirus/passenger-throughput, December 2020. 
  3. Source: Google, From Rider to Driver: Meet the New New Car Buyer, research was carried out in AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, MX, U.K., U.S., Sept. 2020. 
About the author

Michelle Camacho is the President of The Automotive Advertising Agency.