Auto Industry Trends As Market Rebounds

Image of Skip Soucie
Skip Soucie

Although the auto industry continues to face COVID-19 challenges, according to a recent forecast by Cox Automotive, May sales are expected to see modest but steady gains.

The forecast reports that “new light-vehicle sales volume in May is expected to finish near 1,050,000 units, down 33% compared to last May but up 49% from last month.” After factoring seasonal adjustments, “the annual sales pace is expected to finish near 11.4 million, up from last month’s historically low 8.6 million paces.” The industry is moving in the right direction, but still well below May 2019’s healthy 17.4 million marks.

The numbers are encouraging; however, the burning question going forward is whether or not these gains will hold true into June and beyond.

While it’s unclear what market sales will look like over the next few months, what we do know is that shopper behaviors and consumer preferences are changing pretty significantly. In fact, the uptick in May sales is largely due to an increase in customers using digital and virtual online tools to research, shop, and buy.

By observing and adapting to evolving shopper trends, especially digital tactics and tools, the possibility of rebounding faster, seems more likely.

Key Industry Trends As The Market Recovers

1. Shoppers Are More Likely To Transact If They Feel Safe

In the COVID-19 Digital Shopping Study released last month, Cox Automotive found that once consumers feel safety measures are in place and dealerships are open, nearly half of in-market shoppers expect to transact in 30 days or less.

Auto Industry Trends As Market Rebounds

Knowing that nearly half of all new vehicle shoppers who have been putting off a purchase are more likely to transact once they feel confident in your safety measures, is not only encouraging, it’s actionable in terms of your marketing communications and strategy.

Regardless of whether or not your dealership is currently open, you’ll want to make sure that your website conveys precautions and safety measures in effect. In addition, due to the influx of online and social media usage, Facebook should be your marketing and communications hub. With the use of frequent organic posts and targeted ads, you can quickly get the message out that your dealership is open, clean, and safe for showroom visitors. This should be your “always-on” message right now.

2. Digital and Virtual Tools Are Preferred

During the pandemic, both consumer demand and dealership use of digital and virtual tools has increased. The shift to digital means consumers want convenience and access to information online and across devices.

What does that look like exactly? Digital doesn’t necessarily mean e-commerce transactions. If we look at recent online activity reported by, vehicle description page views were up relative to overall traffic, and the volume of online chats and text messages sent to dealerships via the shopping websites increased 150%.

The idea is to create multiple channels whereby consumers can research and virtually connect with your sales and service departments. By simply making the research and Q&A process easier, you can move the shopper from consideration to purchase much faster.

3. Shoppers Are More Price Conscious

It’s only natural that with the economy in recession and unemployment numbers high, consumers are looking for the best deals. Price incentives, little-to-no APR, and lower down payments are leading offers that can prompt shoppers who may have been delaying their purchase to take the next step.

The key here is consistently reaching the right audience with the right offers. Going a step beyond that, by having helpful online content, delivering high impact ads, and enabling virtual tools like Facebook Messenger and other online chat features, you can benefit. The name of the game is convenience. If you can make the buying process easier, then you’re one step closer to the sale.

Final Thoughts

As May sales are hopeful and markets begin to reopen, now is the time to fine tune your marketing tactics. Knowing that customers are willing to purchase soon after the market reopens but remain somewhat skeptical means you’ll need to be very strategic with your messaging in order to move shoppers from consideration to purchase. 

We’re here to help you do just that! 

  • Access in-market data to capture lost opportunities
  • Drive lead generation with high impact social media advertising 
  • Reach audiences that are most likely to purchase 
  • Craft relevant messages that trigger purchase intent 

While there are uncertainties in the market, there are also things that you can control. As the industry weathers the storm, continue to reassure your customers, look for opportunities wherever they may be, and continue investing in digital.   

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