5 February 2019

SEAT: What leads people to buy a car?

Car company SEAT finds it takes two months and advice from eight people before a person chooses a new car, writes Trish Whelan. 

SEAT have taken a close look at the process that many buyers follow before making their final decision on their new car.

Buying a car is the second largest investment people make after the purchase of a house. For 55pc of buyers, their cars’ mileage and age are the reasons for buying a new car. Some 20pc of sales are the result of wanting more safety, more space, lower fuel consumption, or a car that is equipped with the latest technology.

A further 15pc say they are motivated by family circumstances, either because of marriage or separation, or welcoming an addition to the family. Other contributing personal factors for 10pc include changing jobs or completion of studies.

Eight and a half weeks is how long the purchasing process usually takes. 45pc of people first decide what body style and size they want; 24pc of customers begin with what kind of engine they want (diesel, petrol, hybrid (or EV)); while 17pc have a strict budget in mind, and the remaining 14pc want a specific brand. 

SEAT Market Research and Product Strategy have found that 55pc of future buyers who  begin with a brand in mind, change their preference throughout the process.

Internet yes, but with a personal touch: They also found that 9 our of 10 buyers admit that recommendations made by friends have an impact on their final choice. They usually seek advice from an average of eight friends or family members. Despite the rise of digital tool such as the carmaker’s website configurator, the dealership is still a key figure. 55pc of buyers value courtesy, a better price and financing options more than proximity - half of all customers don’t buy their car from the dealer closest to their home.

The first time: A person buying their first car is one of the moments they remember for life. Before closing their purchase, hesitant customers visit up to 10 dealerships of different brands, four times more than non first-time buyers, and speak with an average of 15 friends and family members for recommendations. 40pc of those who buy a car for the first time link their purchase with work purposes.

The question of monthly instalments or cash. Brands currently finance half of the cars they sell through their own finance companies. Only 38pc of buyers can afford to buy a car with their savings.

Driving without restrictions: 35pc of those who choose a hybrid drive or electric vehicle admit they are motivated by driving restrictions during periods of heavy pollution. 

Design is fundamental to 41pc of future buyers; 30pc look for cars with a high driving position (a figure that links to the rise in SUVS); SUVs now account for 33pc of all cars on European roads.