SA car buyers’ rapid shift to online “tyre kicking” highlighted by latest research


Since 2015, has conducted surveys with car owners measuring the Purchasing Experience, Aftermarket Experience and Overall Ownership Experience. One output from these surveys is the prestigious Consumer Awards - powered by WesBank, with category winners and the much-prized Brand of the Year Award.  Over the past five years almost 30 000 car owners have completed the survey; over 10 000 of these in 2019.

The survey also measures and tracks a wide range of issues of importance to the South Africa car owner and much of this information is shared with manufacturers through an online dashboard that is regularly updated.

We have extracted some interesting data from the survey over the years.

When Buying your car, why did you choose that particular dealership?

Car purchasers were asked to respond in terms of Convenient location, Only option for the brand, Word-of-mouth recommendation, Best deal offered, Previous experience/dealt with them before, Advertising, and Other.

Respondents were probed further for clarification of “other” reasons.  An analysis combining these responses reveals that the reasons for selecting a specific dealership fall into the following main categories:

  • Convenient Location/Only Option: covering convenient location; only option for the brand; and committed to the brand.
  • Service Reputation/Friendly: covering word-of-mouth recommendation; dealer reputation; friendly staff; good customer service; salesperson and helpful staff.
  • Best Deal Available: best deal offered; finance offered/available; and/or best trade in offered.
  • Online Search/Advertised/Stock: covering online advertising; specific car available at the dealership; quick/first response to enquiry.
  • Previous experience/dealt with them before: covering friends/family, being familiar with the dealer/staff, and/or other relationship.

Over time, some interesting shifts in customers’ dealer selection motivation are revealed.

In the graph

Note how “Convenient location” and “Previous experience with the dealership” have diminished in importance while “Service Reputation” “Best Deal Available” and “Online advertising and availability of a specific vehicle” have grown in significance.

The drop in the relevance of dealer location and convenience is particularly significant, which is offset by a growing importance of using online search to find specific vehicles and the best deal available. 

An analysis was conducted to highlight the relative scale of these shifts in the importance of dealer selection criteria by indexing the results in 2018 and 2019 to the results in 2017. 

The results show clearly that searching online to find specific vehicles and the best deal available was almost an eight times more significant factor in 2019 than it was in 2017.

“It is important to note that this research was conducted prior to the current COVID19 crisis, which is likely to only accelerate the identified trend,” says Hannes Oosthuizen, Consumer Experience Manager. is an award-winning Digital Media, Marketing, and Advertising Company (with Influence) est. 2015, with a global reach of over 1 million

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