Auto retail rethink on the horizon as young people continue to move away from the dealership

Deniza Cristian 15/11/2022 | 11:56

The future of the automotive dealership is going to need a digital redesign as successive generations move increasingly online when it comes to vehicle purchases.


According to retail insights from the latest EY Mobility Consumer Index (MCI), which surveyed 13,000 car buyers across 18 countries, 37% of Gen Z respondents would prefer to buy their vehicle online. Just 13% of baby boomers say the same, and the percentage rises for each successive generation, with 20% for Gen X and 28% for millennials.

The MCI also shows that online tools for researching a vehicle purchase are now an essential and growing part of the purchasing process, with 66% of all car buyers using them to gather information about their purchase (65% of Gen Z, 69% of millennials, 66% of Gen X, and 60% of baby boomers).

Cristian Cârstoiu, Partner, Consulting, Chief Innovation Officer, EY Romania:

“With the online acquisition trend accelerating, we see also changes in the customer behaviour pertaining to more personal shopping items, like watches, cars or homes. Acquisition of a car involves multiple steps, sometimes intertwining physical and online experiences. The expectation to have digital experiences for everything that does not involve physical touch is becoming the norm (ubiquitous access to data, to car digital twin and soon metaverse car rides) and dealerships that will offer this to Gen Z will be the winners in the changed automotive arena.”

While the data does still show that more than half of buyers (57%) intend to buy their next car from a dealer, consumers are increasingly open to using quick and convenient digital tools for at least some of the purchasing process. 63% of electric vehicle (EV) buyers say they would be interested in booking a test drive and working out the price of a new car (61%) online, for example, while 52% would use an online configurator to explore the specifications of a car.

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