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AutoTrader.ca Study Uncovers Opportunity for Canadian New Car Dealers Amid Delivery Delays

Despite challenges stemming from the global microchip shortage, silver linings may be found by dealers who can influence car shoppers not to look elsewhere in the face of extended wait times

As the global microchip shortage continues to delay the production of new vehicles, AutoTrader.ca recently deployed a national survey of Canadian car shoppers to get a full picture of the importance of new vehicle delivery timeframes.  The survey set out to gauge just how long consumers are willing to wait for that perfect car, and if they are now more open to the influence of advertising for another automotive brand or model if the vehicle they want is out of stock or delayed.

According to the survey, conducted online in August of this year among 453 adult Canadians who had indicated they were open to purchasing a new car within the next 12 months, vehicle availability and delivery time is, as expected, very important to overall purchase intent.

Key findings indicate that two out of three Canadian car shoppers believe vehicle delivery timeframe and availability is either “important” or “very important” when it comes to their overall purchase decision. Only a small percentage – five percent – of respondents said it wasn’t important at all.

However, while consumers are willing to extend wait times to get into their preferred vehicle, many indicate they would consider switching manufacturer or model preference if they find the duration between purchase and delivery to be too long.

Car Shoppers Expect to be Driving Sooner Than Later

A full 80 per cent of respondents to the study said they would generally expect to be behind the wheel of their new car within one month of purchase. Only 20 per cent of respondents said they would typically expect to wait more than a month to get the keys to their new vehicle.

With the realities of today’s supply-chain challenged market, these consumer expectations are being tested and dealerships are being challenged to meet them.

As indications across the industry show new car buyers waiting anywhere from a few weeks to six months or more to have their vehicle delivered, it might not be surprising that some car shoppers would consider revisiting their preferences or even forsaking their brand loyalty in favor of getting the keys sooner.

Of car shoppers surveyed, 16 per cent of respondents said they would consider switching to another vehicle if their first choice wasn’t immediately available, even when the alternative might actually be their second or third choice.

Top Preferences Hold

According to the AutoTrader.ca survey, 42 per cent of shoppers would wait until a later date to buy their most preferred vehicle if it was out of stock or its delivery was known to be significantly postponed. At the same time, 22 per cent of respondents, faced with not being able to immediately get their preferred vehicle, would hold off on buying any new vehicle, opting to wait until the overall new car market had more available inventory.

This indicates that 64 per cent of car shoppers would rather wait at least some time for inventory to become available rather than compromise on their preferred vehicle.

Underscoring how committed some Canadian car shoppers are to the primary car brand and model they have in their sights, 18 per cent would consider buying a used model of their top car choice and get it right away versus switch models or cross shop competing manufacturers.

How Long Will Car Shoppers Wait?

Among car shoppers who would be willing to wait to buy their preferred model if it wasn’t immediately available, 43 per cent said they would be willing to wait less than three months, nearly one in three (31 per cent) said they would be willing to wait between four to six months and one quarter (25 per cent) said they would be willing to wait more than six months to get into the right vehicle. That means that more than half (56 per cent) of loyal car shoppers would be willing to wait anywhere from four months to more than a year to get their vehicle of choice.

Right Time for Targeted Marketing

Having a clear understanding of these prospective customer segments can set up some interesting opportunities for a variety of marketing efforts by dealers. This may include developing ways to gauge – and potentially influence – a prospect’s shift in purchase intent while they wait for their preferred vehicle to become available or, in contrast, reinforce that decision for when the vehicle does eventually become available.

To this end, more than half (52 percent) of ‘brand loyalists’ who indicated they would be willing to hold on for their preferred vehicle, said they would still be open to switching car brands or models while they wait.  Further, one in four (24 per cent), said they may be open to advertising that proposes considerations from an alternative auto manufacturer. This 24 percent could even be an under representation given consumers typically under estimate the influence advertising overall.

Maintain Dialogue With Loyal Customers

Despite challenges facing the new car market, a delayed vehicle delivery can be viewed as an opportunity for car dealerships. Establishing and nurturing an ongoing dialogue with motivated car buyers, who are generally inclined to be loyal, is key as they could potentially be lost to another dealership or brand if the line of communication is broken.

In fact, even after a deal has been signed, maintaining ongoing communication with the customer gives dealerships a pulse as to whether or not the buyer may be getting agitated with their wait and if long-term brand loyalty could be tested. Knowing the mindset of the customer puts the dealership in a much better position to proactively take steps to maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty. Of course, speed of response and flexibility are paramount.

While there are some cautionary notes that can be drawn from the study, the clear upside is that dealers should feel confident that a strong, proactive marketing and communications plan that directly addresses the delivery challenges created by the global microchip shortage, while offering outstanding customer service to intending car buyers, can be a winning strategy – particularly if it includes the following elements:

  1. Don’t let up on your advertising. Keep your ad dollars working for you, so you can act on opportunities to move prospective customers into an alternate nameplate, (particularly the case with network dealerships), into another model, or even used inventory.
  2. Ramp up your customer service, with a focus on flexibility. Nothing will give you more of a competitive edge than demonstrating a willingness to adapt your processes to keep the customer content and informed during the current supply chain crunch. A customer service program built and focused on keeping the customer happy while they await delivery is a surefire loyalty builder.
  3. Activate a strategic communications plan that extends from the moment a purchase contract is signed to when the keys are handed over. Open and transparent dialogue can be the difference maker in identifying signals that a customer is getting concerned or agitated. The ability to respond quickly and meaningfully is key to keeping the sale.

Consumer Research Results: Global Microchips Shortage Shows Canadian Car Shoppers Are Willing to go the Extra Mile

The global microchip shortage stemming from a variety of COVID-19 and trade-war related production disruptions, that has impacted supply chains across the world including the automotive sector, is very much top of mind with Canadian car shoppers.

In fact, according to an online study of over 500 AutoTrader.ca and AutoHebdo.net marketplace auto intenders conducted in June 2021, 9 in 10 respondents said they were aware of the shortage and 78% said they expected it would have some impact on the automotive industry as well as market.

Among Canadian car shoppers, the most highly perceived effect of the microchip shortage is that dealerships will have less selection of new vehicles and prices will be higher. Specifically, 84% of respondents said they expect to see less selection of new cars on dealership lots, and 71% anticipate encountering higher than normal prices. Further, 65% believe there will be less room to negotiate and 57% believe there will be fewer purchase incentives and promotions due to the supply squeeze.

Interestingly, consumers astutely anticipate used car pricing and inventory will be affected by the global chip shortage in much the same way, as demand for used vehicles will be driven up by the decrease in supply for new cars.

What should be of particular interest and reassurance to dealers is that according to the research, Canadians are willing to go the extra mile to purchase a car. Nearly one third of prospective shoppers said they are willing to pay more for a new vehicle due to the microchip shortage.

Many are also willing to make adjustments to their vehicle shopping strategy to address the challenge. This includes 42% of respondents who would be willing to travel further to purchase a vehicle, with 31% open to travelling more than 400 kilometers to find the right car. More time spent comparison shopping for vehicles on online marketplaces like AutoTrader.ca is something 35% of consumers anticipate doing as a direct result of the microchip shortage, with nearly half (49%) expecting to spend an additional two to four hours a week comparing vehicle offers online.

The temporary decline in supply of new vehicles has also prompted 27% of car shoppers to be willing to switch from purchasing a new vehicle to purchasing used, and 20% are willing to cross-shop between makes and models.

Finally, when asked what would help make their car buying experience better in the face of the microchip shortage, nearly half (49%) of respondents said that having access to a price comparison tool to help them determine a good price for a vehicle would be most beneficial.

Receiving direct updates on the microchip shortage and its impact on the automotive marketplace was cited by 22% of respondents as being beneficial to their car buying experience.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that this most recent consumer study demonstrates that Canadian vehicle buyers are well aware of the challenges being posed to the automotive industry by the global microchip supply drought and that they are prepared to adjust their shopping behaviours accordingly. In knowing this, it would be beneficial for dealers to fine-tune their marketing and customer service strategies to provide prospective buyers with valuable information to help them along the vehicle purchase path.

Activix Receives Strategic Investment to Fuel Growth

Investment will increase addressable market and accelerate the development of new offerings

TORONTO, ONMay 27, 2021 — Activix, a leading provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions for the automotive industry, today announced that it has received a strategic investment from TRADER Corporation, a portfolio company of private equity investment firm Thoma Bravo.

“This investment will accelerate our growth plans in Canada, fast-track our product development, and enable us to serve our customers even better,” said Olivier Tétrault, President and Founder of Activix.

Activix boasts the most innovative CRM system in Canada, allowing car dealers to consolidate inbound lead management with showroom and salesperson activity into one streamlined dashboard. Both sales and service efficiency are enhanced via the technology, while Activix also offers innovative training solutions to dealership employees.

“Activix has built a truly transformational CRM product which enables car dealerships of all sizes to significantly improve their efficiency and sales conversions via robust technology backed by dedicated customer support,” said Sebastian Baldwin, President and Chief Executive Officer at TRADER Corporation. “We look forward to helping Activix scale their business, as well as exploring the opportunities to help our dealer partners be more effective by leveraging synergies between Activix and TRADER’s other software offerings. Those include TAdvantage websites, 1-SOURCE inventory management and Motoinsight Digital Retailing, among others.”

About Activix
Founded in 2012, Activix entered the Canadian automotive landscape as a training and consulting company for dealerships from coast to coast. The company took its initial step towards building the most innovative CRM on the market in 2014, with the launch of WebBost, an industry-first application capable of converting internet leads into outbound calls. WebBoost quickly became the most important division of the company, paving the path for future growth. Fueled by swift introductions of CRM features, integrations and never-before-seen modules, Activix rapidly grew to over 500 satisfied dealership clients, with 4,600 users, Canada-wide. Today, its platform is certified by over 15 automotive manufacturers. The company is committed to offering the most complete CRM platform for Canadian dealership operations, coupled with unparalleled reporting. For more information, visit www.activix.ca.

 

About TRADER Corporation
TRADER Corporation is the leading digital marketing partner for Canadian automotive retailers and manufacturers. With over 25 million visits a month and more than 6 million total mobile app downloads, TRADER’s largest automotive marketplaces – AutoTrader.ca and AutoHebdo.net – are the #1 source for all things automotive in Canada. The company offers retailers and manufacturers access to a robust audience of new and used car shoppers, best-in-class digital advertising, website and software solutions, and rich data insights. TRADER Corporation is the first to offer a completely integrated digital retail experience for consumers and dealers on a major Canadian automotive marketplace. For more information, visit go.trader.ca. Follow TRADER on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

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For further information or to schedule an interview:

Gage Knox
gage.knox@wearecoop.ca
647-537-7017

Website Accessibility: A Guide for Canadian Car Dealers

If you’re responsible for your dealership’s website, you may not be aware that its design could be required by law to follow an international set of standards established to improve digital accessibility for people with disabilities. This includes making it easier for people with vision, hearing and cognitive limitations to find important information online.

Following the lead of the federal government, which passed the Accessible Canada Act in 2019, Ontario is soon set to become the first province to legally mandate private businesses to follow an international set of standards known as Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make web and digital content more accessible to people with disabilities.

In Ontario, any private or non-profit organization with 20 or more employees has until June 30 of this year to file a compliance report to prove that they are abiding by the digital accessibility rules in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). Organizations with 50 or more employees that don’t comply with the law could face fines of up to $100,000.

 

So, what is WCAG and how does it apply to your dealer website?

WCAG was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community of member organizations and members of the public who work together to develop technical standards for the web, including a single global standard for web content accessibility.

The type of web content addressed by WCAG includes information such as text, images, and sounds, as well as the computer code or markup language that defines website structure and presentation.

WCAG has been updated over the years to account for changes in web-based digital technology, design and development trends, and the growth of mobile offerings. Under AODA, Ontario businesses are required to prove they are complying with the standards set out in WCAG 2.0.

WCAG 2.0 is divided into four guiding principles, which state specifically that web content must be:

  • Perceivable – Content must be presented to users so that it can be clearly sensed (primarily through vision and hearing) either through the browser or through assistive technologies.
  • Operable – Users can interact with all controls and interactive elements of the content using either their mouse, keyboard, or an assistive device.
  • Understandable – The content must provide a message clearly, in plain language, to avoid misunderstanding or mistakes.
  • Robust – A wide range of technologies (including current and future assistive technologies) must be able to access the content.

Each of the four WCAG principles above has specific testable “success criteria” that are rated at level A, AA, or AAA.

WCAG 2.0

In Ontario, businesses and other organizations will soon need their web properties to adhere to a minimum level of WCAG 2.0 AA. The efforts also need to be supported by documentation that identifies the methods and techniques being used to create or fix existing websites to meet the accessibility requirements. In other words, there has to be a real accessibility plan in place. It can’t just be a fluke that a website happens to meet the WCAG standards.

The specific elements of WCAG 2.0 that dealers and other businesses in Ontario need to adhere to include focusing on technology-specific factors such as HTML coding, scripting, audio and video multimedia, captioning, text size and color design.

For dealers in other parts of the country, it is still smart business practice to put a strategy in place to evaluate your web and digital platforms to ensure they comply with at least WCAG 2.0, if not the higher standards in WCAG 2.1. Besides the customer goodwill such efforts can earn your dealership, it’s wise to be prepared for impending accessibility legislation that will likely be forthcoming down the road.

In Manitoba, for instance, the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA), which passed into law in 2013, is soon expected to be updated to require provincial government agencies to adhere to certain WCAG 2.0 digital accessibility standards by 2023. Specifically, the Manitoba regulations are expected to focus on small print size, low color contrast between text and background, and the use of language that is not clear or plain as accessibility barriers that will need to be addressed.

Nova Scotia is also in the process of updating its provincial Accessibility Act to incorporate aspects of WCAG that will compel public sector organizations to improve their digital accessibility practices by the year 2030. British Columbia has also expressed its support of implementing WCAG standards into its provincial accessibility law, but no timeline has been set.

Businesses and other non-governmental organizations are not yet required to comply with WCAG standards outside of Ontario, but the sense among many Canadian accessibility experts is that it is only a matter of time before digital accessibility legislation is more broadly extended to include the private sector.

If you’re uncertain as to where to start on the path toward WCAG compliance, the TAdvantage team of website design professionals is here to help. Simply visit go.trader.ca/TAdvantage today to sign up for a free website assessment. If you are already a TAdvantage customer you can have peace of mind in knowing that your digital platforms are accessible to all potential customers and that you won’t run into trouble with the law!

Webinar Recording: 2021 Automotive Retail Website Trends

A powerful and informative dealership website, leveraging the latest best practices, is essential to engage and convert car shoppers browsing your virtual lot – now more than ever. During our webinar, 2021 Automotive Retail Website Trends, our resident dealership website expert, Madeleine Dubé, shared the top features and functionalities that automotive retailers should aim to deploy within their online presence this year.

Some of the key focus areas during the webinar included shifts in consumer preferences, the sizeable shift to online shopping, and website accessibility standards. From the continued importance of a mobile-first web design to the rise and dominance of video, Madeleine explains all of the features that should be included in your dealership website to ensure that you are on top of the latest trends.

Get an obligation-free demo of our TAdvantage Dealership Website platform to see first-hand how we deploy all of the features discussed in our webinar.

Consumer Research Results: How Canadian Consumers Feel About Electric Vehicles

The broad economic impact of the ongoing global pandemic notwithstanding, electric vehicles (EV) have captured the spotlight in the global automotive marketplace, with auto manufacturers introducing new models in all EV categories, from pure battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) to hybrids, at a frenzied pace. Government incentive programs and media hype are also major forces continuing to drive consumer curiosity and awareness in the category.

But just how far does Canadian consumer interest in EVs actually extend to purchase intent and what are the factors ultimately influencing an EV purchase decision?

To shed some light on these questions, we conducted a national online study with AutoTrader.ca and AutoHebdo.net marketplace users this spring to uncover insights on Canadian consumer perceptions of EVs, specifically, what motivates their interest and informs their decision-making in purchasing an EV. More than 700 people across Canada responded to the survey.

Among the key findings of the study, we found that while 92% of respondents do not currently own an EV, nearly two-thirds (64%) of non-owners said they were at least open to the possibility of buying an EV as their next car instead of a traditional gas-powered vehicle. This represents a great opportunity for Canadian car dealers with EVs in their line-up.

With virtually constant presence in the media spotlight, it’s perhaps not all that surprising that Tesla was the brand most often named by potential EV buyers in our survey as coming to mind without any prompting. In fact, Tesla is by far the most popular electric vehicle manufacturer currently in market, with a full two-thirds of car shoppers claiming it to be their most desired EV brand. Lagging far behind in second place is Toyota, with 8% of respondents identifying it as their most desired EV brand. After Tesla’s virtually untouchable 77% rate of unaided brand awareness, Toyota came in at a solid 32%, followed by Chevrolet, Ford and Nissan, at 18%, 17% and 15% respectively.

Of course, despite the generally positive attitude Canadians have towards EVs, there is still plenty of room for sales growth for traditional automotive brands in the segment and opportunities for dealers to encourage and motivate buyers to take the EV plunge.

One of the key areas to consider is just why some consumers are not interested in buying an EV, at all.

According to our survey, the top three objections buyers have about EVs are a higher purchase price and limited travel range, both coming in at 61%, as well as a lack of charging stations or power availability (54%). Other objections include concerns about maintenance cost, lack of suitability for cold weather, and – perhaps counter-intuitively – detrimental environmental impact because of battery manufacturing and disposal requirements.

Among potential EV buyers, fuel cost efficiency is the top reason they would consider such a purchase (83%), followed by perceiving EVs to be environmentally friendly (70%), and requiring less maintenance than pure internal-combustion vehicles (51%).

Interestingly, while 79% of potential buyers say government incentives could motivate them to purchase an EV, a full 30% of survey respondents said the minimum financial incentive that would sway them to sign a purchase agreement is more than $10,000. Another 28% of respondents said it would take at least $6,000 to convince them to buy an EV – still higher than the federal government’s current $5,000 maximum incentive.

So, what does this all mean for dealers eager to take advantage of high consumer interest in EVs and aiming to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

Clearly, dealers need to develop marketing strategies to leverage the perceived positive attributes EVs have among consumers. However, it’s just as important to address barriers and consumer objections in the marketing messaging.

Seeking to identify the key factors that can motivate an EV purchase among prospective consumers, our survey found that potential buyers overwhelmingly want to know ahead of any purchase just how they are going to be able to charge their EV at home and on the road, and exactly how far they can travel in between charges.

Another key factor that may be hindering EV sales across the board is a general level of confusion and lack of awareness among consumers about the differences between battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), with only 37% of car shoppers indicating they are clear on the distinctions.

Thus, dealers looking to develop promotions and marketing collateral to increase sales of EVs should think about how they can creatively integrate elements that educate consumers about the different types of EVs available in the marketplace and help dispel many of the myths and misconceptions that still surround EVs, particularly with regard to vehicle performance and maintenance costs.

According to our survey, online video, third-party review websites, and manufacturer websites are the top information sources potential buyers use to learn more about EVs, with dealerships down the list and tied with friends and family as the preferred EV information source for 27% of respondents.

Clearly, then, there is plenty of opportunity for dealerships to do more to educate, inform and motivate buyers to put a charge into their EV sales!

Research Results: 2021 Canadian Car Buyer Perceptions and Priorities

One of the most surefire methods to attract and connect with your customers is to have a solid understanding of your target audience. That’s why, at TRADER, we are committed to consistently staying on top of consumer trends and relaying our research findings to our dealer partners.

In February 2021, we partnered with the Angus Reid Group to survey over 1,000 Canadian car buyers, who either purchased a vehicle in the past two years, or, intend to purchase a vehicle in the next two years. At the foundation of the study, we wanted to gain a better understanding of the perceptions and priorities of consumers throughout the car buying process. Let’s take a deep dive into what we’ve learned from Canadian car shoppers and buyers alike.

When rating the importance of purchases, over half of our survey respondents consider a vehicle to be an important life purchase, second only to a home. Taking a deeper dive into their vehicle purchase mindset, shoppers were asked to share their feelings with regard to the process. Of those surveyed, 81% said they feel anxious when purchasing a vehicle. The primary source of this response is grounded in the belief that they may be spending too much, (63% of respondents). Similarly, 49% of consumers expressed feeling uneasy about negotiating a better deal, as negotiations are not their strongest suit. With that said, consumers believe that negotiations are an essential part of the purchase process, as three-in-four buyers did engage in at least some level of haggling specific to the purchase price of their vehicle.

Digging deeper into the negotiation aspect, 63% of consumers report that the primary reason for not negotiating is grounded in the belief that the asking price was fair. When we look at the reasons why consumers do negotiate on price, 48% state they always negotiate, 33% wanted to pay less, even if the asking price was fair, and, 33% wanted to get a great deal.

So how can you help your customers build comfort and confidence in the car buying journey? A large percentage of car buyers say that there are certain factors that would increase their faith when discussing the price of a car. At the top of the list, 81% of consumers claim that access to a price comparison tool that shows fair market value would instill confidence in the price of a vehicle.

Car shoppers use a variety of online sources to compare prices. These remain consistent with what we’ve observed through other recent consumer research, with 77% using online automotive marketplaces, 69% visiting manufacturer websites, and 66% browsing dealership websites to help build confidence when discussing price.

Taking a look at the rankings of the top three most important factors when purchasing a vehicle, as reported by consumers, 77% rate price as most important, followed by fuel economy at 49%, safety at 45%, and 40% rate the brand as important. Pivoting to ranking the top three factors that encouraged these same consumers to purchase a vehicle, price remains the most influential. Of those surveyed, 69% claim that feeling like they got a good deal was the most encouraging factor, while 61% state that getting a good price break for trading in their current vehicle motivated them to buy, and 57% were encouraged by lower interest rates.

Consumers are willing to put in the work to get a good deal. Ninety-two per cent of respondents either do a lot or a moderate amount of comparison shopping to find a bargain. More specifically, 63% of younger car buyers (18 – 34) are willing to do a lot of shopping around – even more likely than older buyers 55+ (51%) – as this often represents their first large purchase.

The majority of car buyers are satisfied with their vehicle purchase price. Specifically, 84% said they were pleased with the price they paid for their last vehicle. If you’re wondering what it would take for a consumer to pay more for a vehicle, the top factors, as reported by consumers, are fuel economy, getting the brand they want, a good assortment of features and amenities, and low insurance rates.

With regard to the pandemic, most consumers report that COVID-19 has not changed how much they would spend on a car. Only 27% of respondents claim they would need to decrease spending, resulting from a reduction in income earning, albeit maintaining the necessity to drive.

Distilling these latest consumer research findings, we have three key takeaways for our dealer partners. We recommend delivering the utmost value to the car buying experience with very thorough online listings, honest and upfront pricing, and, access to price comparison tools. These three aspects play a crucial role in providing for a more transparent and less stressful negotiation process, avoiding any back and forth between your sales personnel and the end consumer, and often result in working sales opportunities that are far more ready to close!

Consumer Research Results: One Year Later, Consumer Purchase Intentions Remain Steady

At the onset of the pandemic there was much uncertainty surrounding just about every aspect of automotive. As we embarked on a journey to gain a better understanding of consumer perceptions surrounding car shopping during COVID-19, we too were uncertain what the results of our research would uncover. Following numerous waves of consumer research, one thing became apparent – vehicle purchase intentions remain strong and stable amongst Canadian new and used vehicle intenders.

When comparing results from our previous study, conducted in January of this year , to our most recent run in March, consumer intention to purchase a vehicle within the next six months remained steady, at 17%.  We’ve also witnessed a trend in the right direction with regards to timing to purchase a car amongst consumers who intend to buy a vehicle within the next 6 months. At the very start of the pandemic, we reported that 72% of shoppers within this cohort believed it would take them longer than usual to make a vehicle purchase, whereas we can now report a significant decline with this cohort, with only 38% expecting to extend the timing of their purchase.

Triggers to purchase have remained more or less consistent with previous research waves. The largest group of respondents, 27% specifically, state that their current car is getting too old, while 18% desire to upgrade to something newer and 9% require a larger vehicle. The most common information sources used by pre-owned car shoppers remain unchanged, however, a slight uptick in automotive marketplace and dealership website usage was noted. Our study found that 62% of consumers use automotive marketplaces, 39% access dealership websites and 33% use manufacturer websites throughout the car buying journey.

Considerations of COVID-19 as worsening generally decreased. Of those surveyed, 41% said they were very concerned about COVID, which has shown a double-digit decrease when compared to the 66% metric recorded at the start of the pandemic. We have also witnessed further easing specific to consumer concerns about personal finances. At the beginning of COVID, 75% of respondents were nervous about the effects of the pandemic on their personal finances, while our most recent research shows that number has decreased to 49%. Similarly, at the start of the pandemic, 68% of respondents reported that they intended to delay their vehicle purchase, whereas today, that group has nearly halved, to a mere 36%. Finally, respondents who were nervous about their ability to afford a vehicle because of COVID has decreased from 56%, recorded in March 2020, to 37% in March 2021.

Based on the findings from our latest wave of consumer research, it’s fair to say that the general levels of uncertainty and apprehension that car shoppers reported just a year ago continue to trend in a positive direction. We’re optimistic that the results from our latest consumer research combined with the double-digit growth in key traffic and engagement dimensions right across the country on AutoTrader.ca will translate into yet another surge of new and used car shopper demand for our dealer partners going into what should be another hot selling season.

COVID-19 Pulse - March 2021

TRADER’s first virtual Carology event of 2021 may go down as the most data oriented and strategy focused Carology event yet! Following a year of challenges and disruptions posed by the pandemic came heaps of data and insights to better understand shifts in consumer shopping behaviour and trialing new strategies to find successful and safe ways to operate. All these findings, and more, were unpacked by automotive industry experts who offered up their own experience and knowledge to create a complete guide to evaluating and enhancing dealership operations, both now and in the future.

The flagship online event was hosted by Ian MacDonald, Chief Marketing Officer at TRADER Corporation. Ian was joined by four key speakers including, Bryan Segal, Vice President Commercial, Comscore, Cathie Pattinson, Dealer Principal, One Price Used Car Superstore, Baris Akyurek, Director Marketing Intelligence at TRADER Corporation, and, keynote speaker, Andrew Tai, CEO of Motoinsight.

TRADER Carology opened with an overview of Canadian consumer shopping behaviour and trends. Baris Akyurek shared reports published by RBC Economics, that looked at consumer spending habits over the past 3 years, which revealed a tangible increase. Specifically, in the automotive industry, there was a spike in spending on gasoline over the past year, as more people avoided use of ride share or public transit. This came as no surprise, as research results on display at last years’ Carology event demonstrated the increase in desire to own a vehicle over other methods of transportation.

What was most notable for dealers was that RBC’s study revealed an increase in household savings since the start of the pandemic, and, 64% of Canadians plan to use this money to purchase a vehicle. Baris’ forecast shared that as vaccines continue to roll out, an improvement in economic outlook will follow, which combined, are likely to fuel new vehicle purchases later in the year.

Bryan Segal from Comscore provided a more granular view of car shopping trends and preferences, as well as performance of online automotive marketplaces. Bryan’s session was loaded with valuable data and insights, revealing how Canadians are increasingly moving towards using multiple devices to consume online content, with mobile devices leading the charge with time spent online. Specifically, 78% of the Canadian digital audience accessed the internet through a mobile device, demonstrating the increasing importance of making specific considerations for mobile when thinking about your dealership’s online presence.

Looking into where consumers are online, Bryan shared that 41% of Canadians visited online automotive resources in February 2021. AutoTrader.ca was the most popular site used, reaching 14.2% of Canadians, followed by Kijiji Autos at 9.8%, AutoGuide.com at 5.4%, Driving.ca at 4.9% and Internet Brands – Automotive at 4.1%.

Bryan concluded his session with an overview of how car shopper intentions have changed over the past year, providing a promising outlook for Canadian car dealers. Comscore found that 55% of intenders said the pandemic did not change their timeline to purchase a vehicle, while 27% claim the pandemic did not change their plans to purchase. What’s even more encouraging is that 13% of respondents said their time to purchase may be shorter, resulting from numerous factors, including new customer assistance for vehicle purchases, fluctuations in COVID case numbers, and an overall erosion of trust with public transportation, thus encouraging vehicle purchase considerations.

The next speaker was a first at a Carology event, with one of TRADER’s dealer partners joining to share first-hand experience of specific strategies and tactics to overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cathie Pattinson, from One Price Used Car Superstore, took the audience through the difficult changes she and her husband needed to make in order to re-strategize their business and drive success following a 7-week closure of their store. She walked through step-by-step changes they rolled out, which included acquiring vehicles online instead of using in-person auctions, changing their operational structure, and cutting costs where they could. She encouraged dealers to not be afraid of change and to leverage the arsenal of tools and resources to adapt and overcome any challenge they may face. Embracing change and rolling out strategic improvement to their dealership operations resulted in immediate success, with multiple months of profits that Cathie’s business had never experienced before.

The final address of the day was from keynote speaker Andrew Tai, CEO of Motoinsight. Andrew is a strong believer in further digitizing the automotive vertical to provide consumers additional options to shop online, by embracing and emulating specific components of the approach leveraged by online giants from other industries. Andrew outlined the way online marketplace giants like Carvana and Amazon operate online today, translating the specifics into practical tips for Canadian car dealers looking to offer more to online consumers.

He broke down the way consumers want to shop into three categories: (i) those who want to complete the entire process online, (ii) those who want to shop on their own terms, both online and in-store, and, (iii) those who want to be up-close with the end product, exclusively shopping in store. In a very relatable format, Andrew described what is often termed the omni-channel experience – an experience he encourages dealers to offer to their prospective buyers, to not only maximize their reach, but, moreover, appeal to every car buyer persona and the specific preferences aligned to each.

The best way to summarize the tips that Andrew shared for dealers to emulate from Amazon and Carvana’s is through a check list:

  • High quality merchandising
  • Transparent and competitive pricing
  • Seamless and convenient online and in-store shopping experience
  • Be confident in your product and experience
  • Promote special or unique offerings
  • Exposure online is fundamental
  • Build trust by leveraging third-party marketplaces and reviews

To hear more about all the exclusive data and advice that was shared throughout the event, check out the video below. There are many more tips to uncover that you can implement in your business to meet consumer needs, innovate your business, and, ultimately, make 2021 your most successful year yet!

TRADER to host its flagship Carology event on April 20, 2021

The free virtual event will feature a diverse group of speakers specializing in key disciplines within Canadian automotive


TORONTO, ON – April 12, 2021:
TRADER Corporation, Canada’s leading digital automotive solutions provider, today announced the return of its flagship automotive event – Carology: The Science of Selling Cars on April 20 at 1PM ET. The virtual event will feature expert speakers deep diving into successful strategies and techniques from leading online marketplace giants and laying out the current online Canadian automotive landscape. A TRADER dealer partner will also share first-hand experiences providing a valuable dealer perspective when touching on post-pandemic adaptation strategies and proven methods to leverage industry disruption to drive tangible results for your dealership operations. To register for free visit go.trader.ca/Carology.

Tailored for automotive industry professionals, this year’s event will be a deep dive into successful strategies and techniques, enhanced selling practices dealers can implement within their operations and trends in Canadian automotive consumption. Attendees will be instilled with actionable insights, exclusive data and learnings, imparting a deeper understanding of how to connect with Canadian automotive shoppers in the present digital world.

The speaker lineup includes:

  • Andrew Tai, CEO of Motoinsight
    Keynote: Learnings for Dealers from Online Marketplace Giants
  • Bryan Segal, Vice President of Commercial, Comscore
    Comscore Methodology & Canadian Online Automotive Marketplace Performance
  • Cathie Pattison, Dealer Principal, One Price Used Car Superstore
    The Automotive Ice Age: Post-Pandemic Adaptations to Selling Used Cars
  • Baris Akyurek, Director, Marketing Intelligence TRADER Corporation
    Canadian Automotive Market Insights & Marketplace Performance Update
  • Ian MacDonald, Chief Marketing Officer, TRADER Corporation
    TRADER Carology Host

“TRADER’s annual Carology event was introduced with the vision of providing Canadian dealers with strategic and tangible insights to navigate the ever-evolving digital automotive landscape,” says Ian MacDonald, Chief Marketing Officer, TRADER Corporation. “The event brings together esteemed automotive experts from different sectors to share their unique perspectives with the goal of enhancing understanding of changing consumer behaviours before going one step further in showing dealers how they can leverage these insights to scale and grow their everyday operations. Last year the event received close to a thousand registrants and we are excited to share this knowledge with an even larger audience this year.”

Now in its sixth year, Carology is an extension of TRADER Corporation’s commitment to supporting the growth of the Canadian dealer community and equipping them with the knowledge and data-led insights to better inform business decision-making as they encounter challenges posed by changing consumer behaviours and the increasingly dynamic purchase journey.

Visit go.trader.ca/Carology to register today for free.

 

About TRADER Corporation
TRADER Corporation is the leading digital marketing partner for Canadian automotive retailers and manufacturers. With over 25 million visits a month and more than 6 million total mobile app downloads, TRADER’s largest automotive marketplaces – AutoTrader.ca and AutoHebdo.net – are the #1 source for all things automotive in Canada. The company offers retailers and manufacturers access to a robust audience of new and used car shoppers, best-in-class digital advertising, website and software solutions, and rich data insights. TRADER Corporation is the first to offer a completely integrated digital retail experience for consumers and dealers on a major Canadian automotive marketplace. For more information, visit go.trader.ca. Follow TRADER on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

 

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For further information or to schedule an interview:

Gage Knox
gage.knox@wearecoop.ca
647-537-7017