Can Buying A Car Be As Bad As A Dental Visit?

May 28, 2010

Car dealers have a lot of work to do if they’re going to win over Millennials. The majority of those born in the 1980s and early 1990s and participating in a Microsoft survey, likened a trip to the showroom to a dental appointment. Funny thing, sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get a salesperson to leave you alone on a car lot. And that’s just the point, according to the survey performed by Wakefield Research and released by the Microsoft News Center.

It seems that this group of savvy consumers does 16 hours of research before signing a sales contract for a new vehicle. Their legwork includes visits to car manufacturer websites, auto specific sites and automotive blogs. In that time they can hone in on what appeals to them and can become experts in the model they’re considering. For them the salesperson becomes superfluous.

So they’re educated, they’re motivated to buy, so what’s the problem? The trouble is going to the dealer’s showroom. Some 85 percent of the respondents dislike at least one part of the car purchasing regime and two thirds of them thought that buying a car was “one of the most intimidating purchases a person can make.”

If you think it looks bad for the typical car dealer platform for selling cars, you’re right it does at least for this demographic group. But there’s hope because 67 percent of the survey participants saw a need “to establish a real relationship with their dealers when buying cars.”

So what appeals to this well informed, tech literate and negotiation averse group? They would like the car dealers to turn around those computers on their desks, so they could see what is in inventory for themselves. Also they would like a few computers on the showroom floor to be web enabled and have access to touch screen computers that would allow the customer to “build” their car from the chassis up. As for an antidote to their revulsion towards the car dealership, the Millennials see a tech-centric answer to that as well.

The problem is the lack of transparency in the transaction process. Respondents, overwhelmingly (84 percent) thought that internet access would level the playing field and breathe some fresh air into closing a deal. If the auto dealers can accommodate this group, the future looks bright, since 81 percent of them said that within the first year they would revisit the dealership to obtain a software update for their car.

So the gauntlet has been laid down, now it’s the dealer’s turn to respond unless, of course, they don’t mind having the same popular appeal as a dentist.  

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