How Well Do You Know The 5 Key Auto Shopping Moments?

Written by Joe Glaser

November 30, 2019

There is no doubt that the internet has changed the way we shop and do business. Now, you can get almost anything you need online without ever having to leave home. However, there are still some things that require a trip to a dealer to make a purchase, like automobiles. Before paying a large sum of money on a Car, you will want to personally check it out first-hand and take it for a spin, which can’t be done from home… at least not yet.

According to a study conducted by Google, an individual will only visit an auto dealership twice a year and while on their Car Buyer Journey, shoppers will come across five crucial moments. Knowing what these moments are and what people are searching for can help improve dealer sales.

1. Which Car Is Best?

Google reports that out of every ten people shopping for a car, six are not sure what to buy, and therefore, will consult with a friend or someone they trust, or will look elsewhere for help in making their decision, such as…

• Search for reviews on sites like Car and Driver, KBB, or Edmunds
• Read blogs
• Visit forums
• Watch videos about specific cars on YouTube
• And more

However, Google reports that no matter which source they use, the majority of people are most influenced by watching videos. Thus, there has been a huge spike in car review searches on YouTube lately and in 2019, over 3M hours of auto review videos were watched during the first nine months. Of those, 1.2M were viewed on mobile devices, which more than doubled since last year.

2. Is it Right for Me?

There are many times when people will buy something, then later figure out that it just doesn’t suit their needs. That is why this question is always raised when making a purchase decision. You don’t want to buy something you don’t need and in the same aspect, you want to make sure that what you buy has what you desire.

Some of the things people look for in a car are seating accommodations, extra space, power, a good stereo, fuel efficiency, airbags, and more. However, their main concern is usually the number of airbags it contains for safety purposes and how many miles it gets to the gallon, although this interest has dropped since 2011 along with the decreasing fuel prices. Another thing that people are picking up interest in is towing capacity as such searches have increased by 30% each year, while searches for trunk space have also risen by 15%.

Of course searches for luxuries are rising as well, where panoramic sunroofs are up 31% and backup camera searches by 23% year over year. Other things people look to are video walk-throughs that show the interior and exterior of the car, its highlights, and features, and even test drives are searched to get a good look at what the car can do. Videos like these are being watched twice as much as last year. People also search for photos of cars they are interested in buying, which these searches are also up 37% year over year and 80% are done on mobile devices. Finally, searches for configurations and equipment options are being done three times more than last year.

3. Can I Afford It?

One of the biggest questions people ask themselves when deciding whether or not to buy a vehicle they are interested in is can they afford it and again they will take to their phones for answers.

It’s a wise choice to trade in your old automobile to buy a new one as it helps get some money off the price. Maybe this is why searches for trade-in-values was up by 17% in July and reached record levels in the summer. There are more trade-ins now than there were during the “Cash for Clunkers” event of 2009. Searches for list prices and MSRP have grown 25% this past year, which are its highest levels yet and 70% of these searches were done on mobile phones.

Another thing that was noticed is that car searches spike during the month of February, which might be due to people expecting a large sum of cash from their tax returns. It is also interesting that when temperatures rise in the summer, so does the interest in shopping for cars as searches for “lease deals” reached its peak this summer and was up 20% from last year.

4. Where Should I Buy It?

We have already established that buyers will have no choice but to leave their comfort zones and pay a visit to an auto dealership to purchase a car; however, that doesn’t mean they won’t shop online before making the trip. Truth is, in the past year, searches for the phrase, “car dealerships near me” has doubled. Meaning nobody wants to stray too far away from home if they don’t have to.

It is also a fact that searches online go beyond locating a dealership near home, people also want to know things like store hours, is the car in stock, and more. In addition, searches for dealers’ phone numbers are 78% higher than in the past year with the majority taking place on mobile phones. And, one in three shoppers used their mobile device to call or locate a dealer since it is still easier and faster to simply make a phone call and ask someone who can answer your questions, rather than try and search for the answers yourself.

5. Am I Getting A Deal?

This is a question that most every shopper will ask themselves during their shopping escapade as nobody wants to get duped to where they find the same product later at a much lower price or even worse, buy something that doesn’t even work. So while shopping at a car dealership, people will do the only logical thing there is to do… take to their mobile phones to do some research.

Shopping is much like gambling when buying things you are really taking a gamble that the products will work right and the price is fair. The only way to up your odds is by getting some information that will help you decide on whether or not you are getting a good deal. The first thing buyers will check on their phones is the price, for which they can look up any vehicle simply by going to the Kelley blue book.


The survey, conducted by Google on search terms pertaining to shopping for cars, has found that people are using their mobile devices more and more to find information to base their buying decisions on. While in the past all we had to base our buying decision on was what we could see in a car and how good it drove while taking it for a test drive, but now that we have our mobile devices, we can do a lot of research on a vehicle and know exactly if it is a good choice and fits in with our budget.

<a href="" target="_self">Joe Glaser</a>

Joe Glaser

Joe Glaser is a marketing consultant and automotive industry expert. He writes for Automotive Marketing Magazine and is a regular contributor to Forbes and The Washington Post.

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