Social media could signal the end of the car dealership
Social media. It's one of the most powerful forces in society today. Which is hardly surprising. After all, around three billion people – approximately 40% of the world’s population – engage with it regularly, and we spend, surveys tell us, an average of two hours every day tweeting, sharing, liking posts, and updating our accounts. That works out - according to some 2020 reports – to about around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos shared each minute.
All in all, then, it's no wonder that social media impacts people's lives in a big way. Some of these impacts are good, others not so good. We won't list all these good and not-so-good impacts here, as you're probably very familiar with them anyway. Instead, we thought we’d take a look at how the phenomenon of social media has affected – maybe ‘infected’ is a more appropriate word - the Automotive World. In particular, how it influences the process of car buying among younger people. And there are some interesting facts to report.
One of these facts, for example, is social media’s influence on millennials. New figures suggest that, today, personal image is more important to millennials and Gen Z than to older generations, and the type of car they own is a big part of that. The result is that over 50% of these groups (millennials and Gen Z) who buy a car do so – according to the research - for its status value, while almost 40% said that Facebook or Instagram played a major part in deciding which model they finally chose.
However, it’s not just about how a car helps to shape personal image. Research by Eventbrite showed that 70% of millennials experience FOMO (fear of missing out). In a world where social media constantly shows people what their friends are experiencing (or say they are experiencing), the fear of missing out becomes, according to EventBrite (and other sources), a major determinant of which vehicles millennials purchase. They want to live a life that’s as fun, and as interesting, as their friends’ lives are – or appear to be.
That’s also – at least partly – the reason why there is so much pressure on manufacturers to make vehicles more tech savvy. It’s because millennials are more tech aware and digitally demanding than previous generations. While baby boomers and Gen X were happy with a decent radio, millennials want full smartphone functionality. According to studies, the top 5 features that millennials look for in their cars are satnavs, satellite radio, Bluetooth, MP3 players and mobile integration.
Yet the effect of social media on the younger generations goes well beyond changing their taste in cars. It's much more profound than this. This becomes clear when you consider that 10% of millennials say that they are prepared to spend at least half their salary on the right vehicle. Such a statistic is revealing. It shows how young people are changing their life priorities to match a new economic reality. In the current economic climate,” said Dr Dean Burnett, author and neuroscientist, “where traditional milestones like owning a home or securing permanent employment are increasingly out of reach for the younger generations, it seems that other aims are becoming dominant. Social status in an increasingly interconnected world is becoming far more important as a result.”
And the impact of social media doesn't stop there. This trend toward to the Internet as the main influencer of car choice has been hailed as the beginning of the end for car dealerships. And the statistics, if anything, support this hypothesis. According to industry analysts, the average car buyer now makes only two visits to a conventional dealership during the purchase process, whereas - only a decade ago – the average was five visits. However you look at it, this can’t be good news for such dealers.
But all this doesn't necessarily mean that car buying as a whole will suffer. It just means that's the way people select and buy cars will change. The Internet will play and ever bigger role. At Desperateseller.co.uk, we can testify to this from experience - as the perfect place to start an Internet search for a second-hand car, we’re seeing ever-higher visitor numbers, month on month. But don't take our word for it. Have a look through our used cars section and you'll see for yourself why it’s so popular – we can almost guarantee that you’ll find whatever you want, from a Honda Civic to a Jaguar XF.