Comscore Finds Indications of Automotive Industry Rebound as Shoppers Adapt During the COVID-19 Pandemic
New auto shoppers near pre-pandemic levels
RESTON, Va., Oct. 13, 2020 – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer vehicle shopping habits have shifted. While online new vehicle shopper interest has rebounded from its lowest point during the pandemic, new vehicle sales have been slower to recover. That’s according to the latest research from Comscore (Nasdaq: SCOR), a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms, which found that there are signs of steady, but cautious, renewed consumer interest in new vehicles.
Heavy incentives from dealers appear to have helped coax some buyers back to the table - in August 2020, there were over 1.3 million new vehicle sales, up from about 710,000 such sales in April 2020, according to information from Wards Automotive.
Looking at Carvana, an online used car marketplace, shows that interest in the used car market has ballooned since the start of the pandemic. In August 2020, Carvana saw 58% more visitors to its site than a year prior, and there has been a sustained lift from the March/April lows, mirroring the trend in the new market. As with new vehicle shopping, use of Carvana’s “Car Finder” tool has skyrocketed, with August 2020 showing a 276% year-over-year increase in users. What’s more, the share of new vehicle shoppers now also shopping Carvana increased this summer to around 15%–16% of the market, above the 10% or so overlap seen last year – another indicator that consumers are spending more time searching for the right vehicle.
Though consumers may be more wary and particular given the times, there’s still evidence that shoppers will strike out for compelling models. While overall industry sales are down year-over-year, several top-shopped models have already met or exceeded their highest sales tallies for the year in August 2020, such as the Honda CR-V, Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Consistent with shoppers expanding the scope of their search, in August 2020, Jeep and Ram visitors drove DriveFCA.com, Fiat Chrysler’s online retail experience site, to its highest visitation since its launching in April 2020. Also in August, about 55% of DriveFCA’s traffic was referred from a Fiat Chrysler-associated page (Brand.com, Chrysler Capital, dealer site, etc.), 34% came from Jeep.com and 9% came from Ramtrucks.com. Another 16% of overall referrals came from lead generation sources – the largest of which only started referring in July and August of this year, immediately boosting visitation and contributing 12-13% of DriveFCA’s visits each month. An additional 7% of referrals came from search, while just 2% came from third-party auto research sites.
Another example of the pent-up excitement for compelling models is the visitor boom shop.ford.com saw when the new Bronco and Bronco Sport were announced in July 2020. Ford saw a 79% year-over-year boost in visitation to its shopper site, largely from shoppers exploring the “Build & Price” tool for Bronco. August 2020 traffic remained elevated, with the shopper site up 17%, and inventory pages up 43%, from August 2019.
“Automakers have thus far done a decent job responding to the challenges of the pandemic —supporting and incentivizing consumers, implementing new safety protocols to get plants reopened, and working with dealers to launch novel shopping experiences both online and in person,” said Dennis Bulgarelli, Vice President, Commercial, Comscore. “In order for auto makers to continue to reach buyers, it remains critical for them to adapt to the changing consumer behavior during the pandemic.”
Comscore will continue to monitor these trends on its Coronavirus Insights Hub. To learn more about New Vehicle In-Market Shopper demand as well as Comscore’s ability to measure a variety of advertising diagnostics and to benchmark against your competitors, contact us today.
Comscore (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms. With a data footprint that combines digital, linear TV, over-the-top and theatrical viewership intelligence with advanced audience insights, Comscore allows media buyers and sellers to quantify their multiscreen behavior and make business decisions with confidence. A proven leader in measuring digital and TV audiences and advertising at scale, Comscore is the industry’s emerging, third-party source for reliable and comprehensive cross-platform measurement.