Finishing Line

Consumer Preferences

By Stefan Budricks

03/01/18

What do customers want? The business that comes up with the right answer has crossed the first hurdle in the pursuit of success. Much effort goes into trying to determine those wants: market research, focus groups, and, yes, those seemingly ubiquitous surveys you are asked to complete after a purchase or service.

Every now and then the search for information relating to one market segment provides, as a byproduct, insights into consumer desires in another. This was the happy result of data collection by Swapalease.com, an automotive lease marketplace that facilitates lease transfers online. New data from the company shows a significant decline in option searches for in-car CD players, and an increased desire for smartphone technology. Potential buyers are searching for options such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Remote Start, and Bluetooth. As a result, the single-disk CD player option has been removed from Swapalease’s vehicle detail pages.

The same data collection also revealed that consumers are becoming more concerned about how a vehicle was cared for and maintained. Users on Swapalease.com are searching in ever-larger numbers for terms such as “garage kept,” “smoke free,” ”pet free,” “showroom condition,” and “dealer maintained.” Each of these phrases screams appearance care, i.e., car washing and detailing. Cars due for return at lease end have been known to be candidates for a thorough cleaning and shine. Now it appears that consumers wanting to take over leases from lessees looking for an early exit could play a part in driving this car care demand.

In addition, Equifax automotive credit data shows that while new-car sales fell 1.9 percent in 2017, sales of used vehicles surged 1.5 percent for the same period. According to Equifax much of this results from continued purchases of off-lease vehicles, which are attractive to buyers seeking relatively new vehicles — circumstances that further bolster the potential for car wash and detailing services. The company sees this trend — fewer new-car sales and expanding used-car sales — continuing through the rest of the year.

A new report from Morning Consult, a survey research, media, and technology company, includes findings from a nationwide survey of over 2,000 adults in the United States about their opinions and attitudes regarding automotive innovations. While a sizable majority of respondents (60 percent) acknowledge knowing little or nothing about autonomous cars, they are not shy in expressing their opinions.

General acceptance of autonomous vehicles would seem to be a long way off.

According to the report, 52 percent of respondents somewhat or completely distrust self-driving cars, while 45 percent said self-driving vehicles would never be able to replace human drivers. An equal proportion (79 percent) was very or somewhat concerned about technological glitches and road safety; 66 percent were very or somewhat concerned about the safety of their personal data.

Meanwhile, a just-released consumer confidence survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics and e-forecasting.com predicts “good times will continue rolling over the next six months for Americans.” Of particular interest is the researchers’ look at consumers’ buying intentions (CBI) six months ahead: “In February, the CBI predictive analytic for purchasing cars is 7 percent higher than in February last year,” said Gary Drenik, Prosper Insights & Analytics CEO. 



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