When push comes to shove, pre-owned vehicle online shoppers settle for mainstream brands after initially showing interest in premium cars.
Stopping to take a closer look at the BMW before taking the Toyota for a test drive It’s the same as strolling through the local grocery store and eyeing a jar of caviar.
Since you’re in a shop that stocks some high-end products, you soon have an expensive jar nestled in the centre of your basket. But by the time you’ve reached the pay point, you’ve realised the financial ramifications of such a purchase and have swapped out the seafood delicacy for a more practical – and affordable – can of tuna.
This is a familiar occurrence in the online market for a used car in South Africa. According to the 2021 AutoTrader Mid-Year Industry Report, the list of car brands local shoppers most frequently search for doesn’t quite line up with the list of brands on which they actually make enquiries on.
The report contains plenty of thought-provoking information about local vehicle-buying behaviour in the six months up to June 2021. It suggests South Africans spend plenty of time considering (i.e. searching for) used cars from premium brands though ultimately show intent for (that is, enquire about) wares from the more mainstream automakers.
Let’s take a look at the figures. Luxury manufacturer BMW is the most searched for brand, accounting for more than 40 million searches on AutoTrader (that’s nearly 13%) in the first half of 2021. Rival German premium brand Mercedes-Benz places second with just under 12% (around 38 million) of total searches, while Volkswagen is third, Toyota fourth and Audi fifth.
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Interestingly, it’s rather a different story when it comes to the top enquired upon brands. Toyota – which has long been the country’s best-selling automaker annually on the new-vehicle market – then rockets up to first place with nearly 15%. Similarly, Volkswagen climbs to second with almost 14%, while BMW – the most searched for brand, remember – has to settle for third.
The trend is further illustrated by high-performance sports car-builder Porsche, which was the tenth most searched for brand in the reporting period yet failed to make the list of top enquired upon brands.
AutoTrader’s CEO George Mienie says this market-driven data laying out user behaviour is useful for dealerships and consumers alike.
“Consumer intent, which we measure by enquiries on vehicles, is a key indicator in the sales funnel and provides a fascinating look into online buying patterns. What consumers dream of buying at the start of their search for a used car isn’t necessarily what they end up enquiring about and therefore, ultimately buying,” said Mienie.
AutoTrader’s report suggests that when local buyers move a step closer to an actual purchasing event, they tend to adjust their options. We can’t all eat caviar, after all. But go can’t go wrong with a rock-solid, vitamin-packed tuna-based meal either.