The UK car market has undergone a difficult period during the last three years. Sales to the private sector, of both new and used cars, were badly hit by the UK economy entering recession during 2008. The consequent scaling back of consumer expenditure on high ticket items dented demand which has only begun to strengthen once again since 2010.
- Optimism appears to be growing among consumers with research for this report showing that four in ten adults are currently considering buying a new or used car in the coming 12 months.
- A major trend is that towards smaller, more fuel efficient cars, thanks to the rising cost of fuel. This is also set to stimulate sales of alternative fuelled vehicles, along with government incentives and manufacturers’ developments in this technology.
- Price and getting as good a deal as possible is the most important factor for many consumers when buying a car, either new or used. This is more important to female buyers, as are the cost of insuring the vehicle and its safety standards. Men have more interest than women in the car’s build quality and its speed/power.
- Ford is the leading car marque in terms of volume sales, advertising expenditure and also in consumer desirability. There are some preferences by demographics, with men keen on the BMW brand (except for the Mini model which has a far higher appeal to women), and with older drivers preferring Japanese brands.
- Our research for this report shows considerable distrust of car sales staff. Women have greater tendency to think salespeople will sell them additional extras that they don’t need (seven in ten) and half don’t enjoy the haggling process. Women are keener to buy from a dealership closer to home for ease of servicing and after-sales service.
- Mintel believes there is more potential for car dealerships to help those who are least ‘car-savvy’ to learn more about their vehicle, eg how to check tyre pressures and monitor oil and water levels, by offering classes, and to improve the car buying experience with a more transparent pricing system.