Millennials Use Smartphones for Car Shopping, Study Says

While the majority of millennials do their car shopping online and many use multiple devices, they’re increasingly scouting new models on smartphones.

Ninety-five percent of young buyers use the Internet to shop for a new vehicle, said a report released today by and conducted by IHS Automotive. About half used a smartphone, up from 34 percent in 2013. That compares with 28 percent of all buyers.

“It’s vital for dealers to have a strong online presence if they want to have an influence on decision-making,” said Isabelle Helms, AutoTrader vice president of research and market intelligence.

Now that consumers can book a restaurant table, flight, or hotel room using Apple Inc.’s iPhone or a device using Google Inc.’s Android system, shoppers are seeking to replicate that experience across all their purchases. Some 35 percent of young buyers thought a lack of a mobile site hurt brands, while 59 percent said a poor mobile experience had the same effect, AutoTrader found.

“With the growth of mobile, there is a need not only to have a mobile platform, but to have one that is easy to use is important,” Helms said.

About 78 percent of millennials used a PC when shopping for a car, compared with 88 percent of all buyers. Some 80 percent of consumers will use multiple devices when car-buying online by 2020, up from 44 percent of millennials in 2014 and 32 percent of all buyers, the study found.

Only 5 percent of millennials, which AutoTrader defines as those aged 18 to 34, use social-media sites when car shopping, the study found. Seventy-eight percent said they were “apathetic” about auto brands even having a social media presence, it said.

“Social media is typically effective when there’s some sort of advocacy cause behind it, but not when it comes to buying or selling at all,” Helms said.

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