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Who are today’s in-market new luxury car buyers?

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on March 1, 2022

Luxury vehicles accounted for a record 14.7% of total US light-vehicle sales in 2021, and the market is expected to continue to grow. For dealers, the key to meeting these consumers’ expectations and increasing luxury sales is understanding who this high-value audience is and what drives them. CarGurus recently conducted a study to learn more about this segment and how they compare to new car buyers overall.

Our study found that new luxury car buyers are more likely to be Gen Z (under 25 years old) and older millennials (34 to 40 years old), and to identify as male and Hispanic or Latinx. Additionally, they tend to be high-income earners, parents, and live in cities. Beyond demographics, we analyzed how shopping behaviors vary between luxury buyers and non-luxury buyers. Here are the trends that emerged.

1. Luxury buyers are passionate

While buying a car is an emotional process for most shoppers, new luxury car buyers are especially driven by emotion when making a purchase. According to our study, they’re passionate and care more about the personality of a car than other factors, likely because the majority (75%) see their car as a form of self-expression. They also are likely to be more familiar with cars than other segments—about three in four luxury buyers consider themselves to be auto enthusiasts.

2. Luxury buyers are eager to buy

Our study found that new luxury buyers are more eager to buy quickly than other segments. Nearly half (44%) said their purchase was very or extremely urgent, compared to only 28% of new buyers overall. Despite their urgency and expertise around a car purchase, many start the process undecided – only 54% know what make they want and just 55% know where to buy from – so they turn online to research these decisions.

3. Luxury buyers care about resale values and the vehicle’s appearance

Because luxury buyers tend to be in-market more out of want than need, they’re able to consider factors beyond price and reliability. When it comes to criteria for selecting a vehicle, new luxury buyers have two priorities in mind: resale value and looks. They explore both factors online ahead of a dealer visit to help make their decision. According to our study, when compared to total new car buyers, new luxury buyers are:

  • 1.5x more likely to prioritize expected resale value
  • 1.5x more likely to prioritize how the car looks on the road

4. Luxury buyers research and compare exhaustively

Luxury vehicles are an investment, which makes it no surprise that 86% of new luxury buyers agree that they research and compare vehicles exhaustively before making a final purchase decision. They leverage their peer network and a variety of online sites for additional opinions and vehicle information:

  • 66% of luxury buyers agree they rely on the opinions of peers vs. 52% of other new car buyers
  • 64% of luxury buyers used YouTube for car shopping research vs. 52% of other new car buyers
  • Luxury car buyers are 35% more likely to use CarGurus than other new car buyers

For dealers, it’s helpful to know what speaks most to luxury buyers shopping for a new car. With this audience, you have the opportunity to highlight special features and upgrades that speak to their tastes. Earn their trust by being a consultative seller and guiding them through the process as they navigate the decisions that come with buying a car.

For more insight on luxury new car buyers, download the snapshot here.

Topics: industry insights, luxury, trends