Under the Hood: Mobile-First Auto Consumers

It used to be that when people needed to buy a car they would go to the dealer, walk down the rows of brightly colored models and listen to a salesperson talk about the latest and greatest makes and features. Today’s auto intender can bypass the car lot altogether and gather information from sites, apps, friends, family members and even experts, all at the touch of a button or scroll of the thumb.

In a previous study on auto intenders, we found that 27% of people in the US report doing most of their vehicle research on a mobile device.1 For key consumer segments, this number is even higher: 45% of Millennials (ages 18–34), 48% of Hispanics and 41% of people with household incomes greater than $200k report doing most of their research on a mobile device.1

As mobile changes how people connect, share and discover information, it is only inevitable that people will increasingly do their vehicle research on their mobile devices. So what does this mean for brands looking to reach today’s mobile-first auto consumers* and auto consumers of the future?

Facebook IQ commissioned Ipsos to conduct a study in the US exploring the behaviors and attitudes of the mobile-first auto consumers and how this group compares to desktop-first auto consumers. We found that 71% of all respondents use mobile during the purchase process. And 58% say that in the future their smartphone is likely to be the only device they use for all their vehicle research.

Read the infographic below to learn more about the people behind the devices and how marketers can best reach them.



What it means for marketers

Reach people in research mode: Not only are mobile-first auto consumers further along in the purchase path, 76% know the exact vehicle they want before going to the dealer. Brands should reach mobile-first auto consumers when they are doing their research and before they make up their minds, providing information in bite-sized, highly visual formats like video.

Optimize for mobile: Mobile-first auto consumers use both m-sites and apps to conduct their vehicle research, finding advantages and weaknesses in each. Brands that use both m-sites and apps will reach people where they prefer to discover, research and purchase while addressing any friction points that are influencing them along their path to purchase.

Plan for tomorrow, today: The majority of mobile-first auto consumers say that in the future, they will rely solely on smartphones for their vehicle research. Brands can use the power of mobile to drive awareness and consideration with Millennials and the next generation of auto consumers and start shifting from the showroom to the “m-room.”

* For purposes of this study, “mobile-first” is defined as respondents surveyed who self-identify as mobile-heavy researchers for auto purchase and “desktop-first” as desktop/laptop-heavy researchers.


1 “The Road to Purchase in a Mobile-first World” by Ipsos Media CT (study commissioned by Facebook), Mar–Apr 2015. This was an online study of adults ages 18–64 in the US conducted with 1,501 respondents intending to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next year. Quotas were set for intended purchase date (1/3 each for 0 to less than 3 months, 3 to less than 6 months and 6 to less than 12 months).
Source unless otherwise specified: “Mobile-first Auto Consumers” by Ipsos Media CT (study commissioned by Facebook), Aug–Sep 2015. This was an online study of adults ages 18–64 in the US conducted with 1,001 respondents intending to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next year, with approximately half identifying as mobile-heavy vehicle researchers and half identifying as desktop/laptop-heavy researchers.