86% of Belgians not ready yet for digital car purchase
Online sales are rising worldwide due to the corona pandemic, but those who want to buy a new car still prefer to do so physically rather than online. This is shown by a market survey among consumers by Belgian sector federation Traxio about the importance of visiting a showroom.
More than 86% consider a physical visit to a car showroom to be important, according to the survey, which was carried out because there will be no motor show in January in Brussels.
More online than ever, but…
The market research among 1 000 respondents shows that a physical visit to the car showroom remains important for 86% of the participants. And it also remains important at every stage of the buying process, and this applies to all ages – including young persons.
“Contrary to what one might think, a visit to a showroom is essential in the early stages and much less at the closing of the deal,” says Filip Rylant, spokesperson for Traxio. “Digital channels have gained importance when it comes to gathering information, but showroom visits and word-of-mouth advertising remain very important, although we see a major difference between the ages here.”
Showroom remains important
Young people, for example, gradually visit the showroom more often as the buying process progresses. But the last phase – signing the order form – is mainly not done physically. For customers between 25 and 50 years of age, the showroom visit’s peak is somewhere halfway through the purchase phase. The over-50s, on the other hand, see the importance of this physical visit, mainly in the initial phase.
On average, for 55% of those surveyed, the traditional showroom visit is the most important information channel. In second place comes the brand website (54%), but also the garage website (29%) has its importance. Word-of-mouth advertising (WOM), which also includes social media, accounts for 26%. WOM is especially important for women: 30% compared to 21% for men.
As far as physical visits to the showroom are concerned, there are significant regional differences: Flanders scores the highest with 62%, followed by Wallonia (50%) and Brussels (36%).
Digital buying still a bridge too far
However, a 100% digital car purchase still seems a bridge too far for most buyers, which applies to all ages. Only 10% of young people (18-24 years) state that they are happy with a purely digital route without a physical visit.
Buying purely digitally is highest among 25-34 years olds (12%), but then systematically declines to 0% among the over-65s. We see a clear majority rejecting the purely digital approach in all age categories, even among the youngest (18-24).
In August, a survey of carnext.com said that almost one-third of potential car buyers are now ready to buy a new car online. As a result of the corona pandemic, new and used car dealers are going almost 100% digital to connect and transact with buyers.
According to recent figures from Traxio, new car sales were hit by more than 21% in 2020. The second-hand car market, too, did worse than in 2019, but the drop is strikingly less: -6,3%.