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3 Key insights you need to know about Gen Z car buyers

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on October 4, 2021

In a recent blog post, we discussed the increasing importance of social media throughout today’s car shopping journey. Social media is a powerful tool that nearly all (95%) car shoppers use while researching and shopping for a vehicle – and it’s a channel that Gen Z car buyers are particularly inclined to turn to for help.

Here, we dive into what makes Gen Z car buyers unique and the influence of social media throughout their shopping journey.

Gen Z car buyers are inexperienced and start the process full of uncertainty

Gen Z car buyers are inexperienced when it comes to shopping for and purchasing a vehicle. As a result, they are less likely to be certain on major decisions when they first start the shopping process like whether to buy new or used (57% v. 67% on average), purchase or lease (55% v. 69% on average), whether to finance (53% v. 64% on average), and even how much they’d be willing to pay (51% certain v. 58% on average).

Despite their uncertainty, Gen Z car buyers often only want to deal with one dealership. Nearly half (46%) visited only one dealership before buying. Similarly, four in ten (40%) only contacted one seller before buying. Instead, they turn to online resources and friends and family for advice before their visit. Gen Z car buyers are more likely to agree they rely on the opinions of friends and family (59%  v. 52% on average).

Social media provides a real opportunity to reach Gen Z car buyers

Gen Z car buyers see social media as an authentic source of information and a great way to crowdsource opinions from their community. Most (85%) said they used social media to assist with car shopping in some way – (viewing photos/videos of cars, asking for advice, reaching out to sellers, engaging with brands, etc.) – versus just over a third (68%) on average. And it has a huge impact: more than a third (34%) of Gen Z car buyers said social media directly informed their car purchase—up from 25% in 2020 and versus 26% on average.

YouTube reigns among Gen Z – but a variety of platforms are used

YouTube is the most used social media platform among Gen Z – both in day-to-day use (82%) and to assist with car shopping (61%). The volume of content available makes it easy for buyers to do the research they want to inform their purchases.

In comparison, Facebook is much less popular among Gen Z: less than half (49%) of Gen Z say they use Facebook regularly v. 76% on average. However, those in Gen Z who are active on Facebook are extremely likely to rely on it when car buying (92%). Other key social media insights include:

  • Over half of Gen Z now use TikTok (53%), but Instagram is more popular (72%) and nearly twice as likely to be used for car shopping (41%) vs. TikTok (26%).
  • Reddit and Pinterest have smaller audiences of Gen Z car buyers (36% and 26%, respectively); however, their users are accustomed to turning to these sites for advice and over 6 in 10 do so for car shopping specifically (62% and 64%, respectively).

Invest in social media to reach the next generation of car buyers

If your dealership isn’t using social media to capture buyers’ attention—especially Gen Z buyers—then you’re probably missing out on sales. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to boost your presence:

  • Use YouTube to showcase your vehicles. This channel can be especially effective for reaching customers at a distance: vehicle walkaround videos can sometimes attract the attention of potential buyers on the other side of the country!
  • Refine your ad targeting. Shoppers can get easily distracted on social media platforms, so it’s crucial that your ads are captivating and relevant. Think like a Gen Z-er and use copy that will connect with your audiences.
  • Build your online reputation. If your brand and reputation aren’t up to snuff online, shoppers will simply click on to the next dealership. Consider sharing informal video testimonials of past customers to showcase your authenticity and commitment to customer satisfaction.

Building a rapport with customers on social media can help you gain visibility far beyond your local area by meeting new clients where they already spend their time. With the right strategy in place, you’ll see higher engagement, generate more high-quality leads, and increase ROI before you know it.

Topics: CarGurus data, Gen Z, shopper insights, social media