Description

“Buying a car can be a stressful process, but the industry is evolving in an effort to change that. At a time when consumers across generations are in the market for a car, the auto industry must adapt to ensure it is catering to each target audience group in a way that best meets their preferences and needs. Moving forward, online shopping options and a focus on more than just vehicle models and features will impact how and where consumers shop.”
– Vince DiGirolamo, Reports Director

This Report looks at the following areas

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the car purchasing process
  • Consumers’ research approach when shopping for a car
  • Attitudes toward the car buying process
  • How consumers view the future of car buying

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US unit sales and fan chart forecast of new and used light vehicles, at current prices, 2016-26
    • Impact of COVID-19 on the car purchasing process
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on automotive industry, September 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Ongoing inventory challenges will continue to impact the market and how, and when, consumers approach the purchase process
    • Explore partnerships with cross-category brands and influential figures
    • Adopt and enhance ecommerce shopping options
    • Focus more on corporate social responsibility
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Car sales rebound after poor 2020; vehicle shortage will limit future growth
    • Increased focus on sustainability highlights automakers’ role in protecting the environment
    • Adoption of online shopping options for part or all of the purchasing process
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Car sales rebound after poor 2020
      • Figure 3: Total US unit sales and fan chart forecast of new and used light vehicles, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 4: Total US unit sales and forecast of new and used light vehicles, at current prices, 2016-26
    • Used cars continue to lead the way in terms of market share
      • Figure 5: Total US unit sales and market share of new and used light vehicles, by segment, at current prices, 2019 versus 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on the car purchasing process
  5. Market Factors

    • Unemployment and consumer confidence impact approach toward buying a car
      • Figure 6: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-21
    • Global chip shortage creates inventory challenges; drives increased pricing
    • Increased focus on sustainability highlights automakers’ role in protecting the environment
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Automakers and retailers adjust business models and offerings
    • Focus more on corporate social responsibility and key issues
    • Utilize targeted marketing strategies and brand partnerships to appeal to key consumer segments
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Automakers implement online buying options
      • Figure 7: Automakers adopt online shopping options
    • Ford focuses on built-to-order business model
    • Tesla looks beyond vehicles
      • Figure 8: Tesla highlights Solar Roof offering
  8. Market Opportunities

    • Explore partnerships with cross-category brands and influential figures
    • Utilize targeted marketing strategies to best appeal to different consumer groups
    • Adopt and enhance ecommerce shopping options
    • Focus more on corporate social responsibility
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Consumers’ plans to purchase may be delayed due to availability
    • Car buying is about more than the car itself
    • The car purchasing process will continue to evolve
    • Highlight value in its various forms to overcome price barriers and concerns
  10. Purchase Time Frame and Responsibility

    • Consumers may be forced to delay purchasing plans
      • Figure 9: Planned timing of next vehicle purchase, by generation, 2021
    • Financial challenges impact how and when consumers shop for a vehicle
      • Figure 10: Planned timing of next vehicle purchase, by financial situation, 2021
      • Figure 11: Honda Dream Garage Spring Event
    • Black consumers look to purchase sooner than later
      • Figure 12: Planned timing of next vehicle purchase, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
    • Buying a vehicle is a shared responsibility for many consumers
      • Figure 13: Purchase responsibility, by generation; family situation, 2021
  11. Research Approach

    • Consumers put in time and effort to find the vehicle and deal that is right for them
      • Figure 14: Research approach for next vehicle, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 15: Auto brands leverage augmented and virtual technology
    • Tailor tactics to best appeal to multicultural consumers’ shopping approach
      • Figure 16: Kia highlights Black excellence
      • Figure 17: Research approach for next vehicle, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
  12. Types of Information Researched

    • Value-based factors and safety features are top considerations
      • Figure 18: Types of information researched, by generation, 2021
    • Female consumers heavily focused on value and safety
      • Figure 19: Types of information researched, by gender, 2021
    • Parents want to ensure precious cargo kept safe
      • Figure 20: Types of information researched, by parental status, 2021
      • Figure 21: Chrysler family-focused direct mail
  13. Attitudes toward Auto Industry

    • Consumers remain concerned with financial aspect of car buying
      • Figure 22: Attitudes toward auto industry, by generation, 2021
    • Parents interested in financial offerings
      • Figure 23: Attitudes toward auto industry, by parental status, 2021
      • Figure 24: Toyota dealership highlights financing solutions
  14. Attitudes toward Car Purchasing Process

    • Overall buying process
    • Buying a car is about more than the car itself
      • Figure 25: Mazda offers teachers free services
      • Figure 26: Attitudes toward buying process, 2021
      • Figure 27: Highlighting positive and negative experiences with online car buying
    • Younger generations look for streamlined buying process from ethically minded brands
      • Figure 28: Attitudes toward buying process, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 29: Chicago-area Lexus dealers highlight staff members
    • Vehicle cost
    • Consumers are concerned with cost; look for optimal times to buy
      • Figure 30: Attitudes toward vehicle cost, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 31: Volkswagen touts vehicle cost of ownership
    • Merge into multicultural consumers’ consideration set by focusing on price
      • Figure 32: Attitudes toward vehicle cost, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 33: Spanish-version sales event digital ad
    • Vehicle type
    • Communicating vehicle benefits and award factors is key, especially for electric vehicles
      • Figure 34: Attitudes toward vehicle type, 2021
      • Figure 35: Kia dealership highlights brand awards
      • Figure 36: Dodge RAM highlights vehicle awards in direct mail
      • Figure 37: Ford highlights first-ever electric vehicle of the year award
    • Younger generations see merit in industry awards
      • Figure 38: Attitudes toward vehicle type, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 39: Chevrolet leverages Clubhouse to promote electric vehicles
  15. Future of Car Buying

    • Consumers expect continued evolution of the buying process
      • Figure 40: Perceptions of future of car buying, by generation, 2021
  16. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  17. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 41: Financial situation, 2020-21
      • Figure 42: Approach for pre-purchase research, by generations; gender, 2021
      • Figure 43: Attitudes toward buying process, by gender, 2021
      • Figure 44: Attitudes toward vehicle cost, by financial situation, 2021
      • Figure 45: Attitudes toward vehicle type, by gender, 2021
      • Figure 46: Attitudes toward auto industry, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

Market

Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.

Consumer

Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

Brand/Company

Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

Data

Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

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