Study: Millennials claim they're better car shoppers than their parents

(March 28, 2015) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — When it comes to car shopping, it's not uncommon for young adults to turn to their parents for experienced tips and advice. But a new study from car buying platform suggests that the younger, tech-savvy generation is quickly becoming a more educated and self-sufficient group of buyers due to their prolific use of mobile devices during the car shopping process.

According to the study commissioned by Edmunds in early 2015, 73 percent of Millennials (age 18-34) said that they believe they are savvier car buyers than their parents. More than half of Millennial respondents also said they actively advise friends and family on the car buying process, compared to 37 percent of older Americans.

One major reason for this is Millennials' proficiency in using mobile devices to research before buying. The study found that Millennials especially turn to mobile for critical car shopping activities such as reading vehicle reviews (41 percent of Millennials vs. 20 percent of all other adults), locating vehicles for sale (34 percent vs 20 percent) and researching vehicle pricing (33 percent vs. 21 percent).

Edmunds' research concluded that 80 percent of Millennials used their mobile devices to help them with at least one car shopping task, compared to just 46 percent of people age 35 and over.

"Millennials today are informed car buyers," said Avi Steinlauf, CEO. "They're making the most out of the volume of information available at their fingertips, and it's helping them to make a smarter car purchase. And since a smart car buyer is a quality car buyer, it all points to an optimistic and healthy future for the auto industry."

But while Millennials have a propensity toward using mobile devices during the car shopping experience, the study also pointed out that this group still heavily values the in-dealership experience. The study found that 64 percent of Millennials said that they prefer face-to-face interaction with dealers as opposed to remote communications, and an overwhelming 96 percent said that it is important to test drive the car before they buy it, debunking the myth that Millennials are making all of their car buying decisions on their phones.

Other noteworthy findings from the study include:

    • Millennials decidedly skew toward used cars when they buy. Used car purchases made up 78 percent of all Millennial car purchases last year, compared to 68 percent of all car purchases by adults 35 and over. And while Millennials accounted for 39 percent of all traffic to used car pages on last year, they made up 58 percent of mobile traffic to those same pages.

    • About 72 percent of Millennials also said that they have considered buying a hybrid or electric vehicle, and a forward-thinking 66 percent said that they would consider buying a self-driving vehicle if it hits the market.

    • Four out of every five Millennials believe it's important to integrate their smartphone features into their car, and 62 percent said that they would pay more money for a WiFi-connected vehicle.

    • But in-car technology is not Millennials' biggest priority. When asked what car features matter most to them, Millennials ranked technology features such as infotainment and Bluetooth well behind price, fuel economy and performance.

    • About 70 percent of recent Millennial car buyers said that they contacted a dealer via text message during the shopping process, compared to just 43 percent of all other adults.

    • About one out of every three Millennials said they used their phones to find contact info for a local dealership, compared to one out of four adults age 35 and over.

    • Mobile capabilities are especially useful to Millennials for in-dealership activities, such as using calculators to determine monthly payments and evaluating vehicle options and warranties.

Study methodology's study of Millennial car shopping habits is primarily an aggregation of two recent surveys commissioned by the company. The first survey was conducted in January 2015 and polled 1500 U.S. adults 18 and over who purchased a vehicle within the last three months. The second survey was conducted in March 2015 and included 1,000 respondents between the ages of 18 and 34. Used car shopping data comes from Edmunds' 2014 Used Vehicle Market Report.