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Reputation is Everything. Hispanic Car Buying Preferences Survey Review

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In my first article on Hispanic Car Buying Preferences , I gave a broad overview of our 2020 and 2021 surveys. For this article, I will focus on dealer and brand reputation. As you know, your dealership’s reputation is worth its weight in gold, especially on the Internet where negative reviews can cost you money. But reputation isn’t just about a review that lauds praises or trumpets condemnation; it is also about how customers feel about your business or the vehicles that you sell.   For our last two Hispanic Car Buyer surveys, we asked a series of questions that sought to surface the Hispanic community’s feelings about a range of topics, some of which are laser-focused on brand and dealership reputations, while others look at tangential, but related, issues such as how a respondent would feel if they were marketed to in Spanish. The results are telling… Your Reputation US Hispanics, like everyone else, see a dealer’s reputation as very important to their car buying decision. In 2021, when we asked respondents, “When you buy a car, truck, or SUV, which of these things do you consider?”, we found that dealer reputation was the most important thing to the community, even ahead of the response “Dealer advertised in Spanish”. If you combine these two questions - a strong positive reputation and advertising in Spanish - you will see the roots for a strong argument why you should direct your dealership towards building a good reputation with your local Hispanic community while marketing to them in Spanish (or a mixture of Spanish and English).  Other general market data supports our results. A quick Google search can find a number of surveys that show that a company’s reputation is an important concern in the buying process. For example, according to one survey , 75% of US Hispanics said that they are more likely to think favorably of a brand or purchase their products, if the brand makes an effort to include elements of their culture in their advertisements. And more importantly, 80% stay loyal to a brand when they find one that they like. Although this data doesn’t directly relate to car buying, it’s not intellectually dangerous to assume that this same logic applies to dealerships. Meet Your Next Hispanic Customer Referral Traffic Referral traffic is a powerful thing. A well-developed referral program can be quite profitable as many dealerships know all too well. In our experience, we’ve found that many Hispanics will refer customers when they’ve been treated well.   The data vigorously supports our anecdotal information. According to our 2021 survey, 79% of all respondents said that they are moderately to extremely likely to refer a customer to a dealer who speaks Spanish.  Sales and Service So what happens when we market in Spanish for car sales and service? Pretty much the same thing. When asked if they would visit a car dealer who advertises in Spanish to buy or service a car, just under 75% chose moderately likely or higher.   And, even more interestingly, 43% said that they would travel further if a dealership advertised to them in Spanish. Throw in the “Not Sure” respondents and the number jumps to 69%. This should make you go “Hmmmm.” if you aren’t already marketing to your local Hispanic community. With that said, our 2021 data quite interestingly contrasts with 2020’s results. According to last year’s survey, only 55% of the respondents replied that they prefer to buy a vehicle from a dealership who advertises to them in Spanish. This discrepancy could be due to the nature of the two samples and will require further research. For example, if last year’s study was weighted heavily in favor of multi-generational US Hispanics, rather than foreign born Hispanics, then marketing in a culturally sensitive way makes more sense than just in Spanish. This supposition is born out by other data. Check out this 2013 MSNBC video illustrating this point.  Most Valued Auto Brands for US Hispanics If building a good reputation and selling to U.S. Hispanics in Spanish makes members of the community more likely to buy from your dealership or refer a friend, then what happens when manufacturers spend time marketing and building a reputation with the community? Not surprisingly, what you see is what you would expect. In both last and this year’s survey we found that the brands that had a reputation for reaching out to the community in Spanish are the same brands that are viewed positively by the respondents. Below are the results when respondents were asked to choice rank their favorite brands. Were there any differences between the two years in terms of who is on top? Yes. For 2021, Ford edged into third place pushing Chevrolet into the #4 slot.   What the most significant lesson learned from this data is that Toyota’s Hispanic-focused marketing continues to produce great results. Our data just echoes what other surveys have found before: Toyota holds a solid lead because it has invested in creating a good reputation and relationship with US Hispanics.   Final Comments Your reputation requires investment and good planning. Those dealerships that work hard to create a good reputation with their customers reap the rewards in terms of better sales and better long-term growth prospects. Creating a good reputation with your local Hispanic community is more than just the act of advertising in Spanish and responding to reviews, it is found in understanding your local culture and marketing accordingly. Do you know which holidays are important to your local community? Do you understand how to flavor your Spanish advertising so that it uses words that resonate culturally? It is these things that we have to think about when creating a marketing plan that works with US Hispanics. The investment is worth it with a market that will continue to grow and mature in the coming years.
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Did You Know This? Latest Hispanic Car Buying Preferences

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There are over 60 million Hispanics are living in the United States and their purchasing power hit $1.7 trillion in 2020 , up from $210 billion in 1990! The U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow rapidly, accounting for around half of all U.S. births.   Rapidly Changing Demographics Many states are facing rapidly changing Hispanic demographics.  Texas ranks #2 and has a Hispanic to white population growth of 9:1 , and that same population is expected to become the largest sub-group in the state this year.  North Carolina's population , on the other hand, is much smaller, but is also growing rapidly reaching 1 million in 2019. Next, while New York has the fourth-largest concentration of Hispanics in the U.S., their spending power is $170 billion , around 10% of the national average.   Young Buyers are Good for Your Dealership Next, the U.S. Hispanic population is very young with a median age of about 30. Compare this with the national average of 38 years, and you can see long-term value in building with the Hispanic community around your dealership. Thinking more broadly about these stats, it is no wonder that U.S. Hispanics are fueling the growth of several key segments of the economy, including the auto industry.   These numbers are no joke. If you are a dealership and you don't know the volume and composition of the Hispanic market around you, then you are making a big mistake. So let's look at the data first, starting with last year's survey and then the highlights of this year's. A Snapshot of Our 2020 Survey We did our first Hispanic Car Buyers survey in early 2020, just before COVID changed everyone's lives.     In 2020, 58% of our respondents were women, and 42% were men. Over half the respondents were 18-31 years of age. Add just seven more years, and the number jumped above 75%.   Five things stand out from last year: Women play a bigger role in decision-making than most people think. U.S. Hispanics want to touch, feel and test-drive vehicles. Toyota enjoys a dominant role in appealing to the Hispanic market because they have reached out to them for years. Selling in Spanish does matter. Hispanics are online and in force and they respond to digital advertising. 2021 Overview - Who'd We Talk To? In this year's survey, we sought to overlap but not completely mimic last year's survey. Consequently, we dug deeper to understand Hispanic online buying behavior. Our sample composition is very similar to last year's, although we had more who were 45 and older. The distribution breaks down in the following way: 54% of respondents were women; 43% of respondents were men; 3% Preferred not to say 17% fell in the age range of 18-25; 37% fell between 25-31; 23% were between 35-44; 17% were between 45-54; and 6% were 55 or older.  As with last year's survey, we hope that this data will encourage executive management at car dealerships and advertising agencies to explore marketing to the community, even if they start with baby steps. The U.S. Hispanic market is growing too fast to ignore and their buying power is exploding. Failing to connect with them will leave any dealership with a large Hispanic population at a disadvantage, especially when competitors act first. 5 Things We Learned in Our 2021 Hispanic Car Buyer's Survey Massive amounts of data show that U.S. Hispanics are becoming a financial juggernaut in America. Still, yet they are often ignored in advertising either culturally or through the use of Spanish language marketing.   If the stats in the introduction are not enough proof that U.S. Hispanics are becoming financially powerful, perhaps a current article in the Wall Street Journal will help convince you. According to the WSJ, in 2020, the number of U.S. Hispanic homeowners rose by more than 700,000, the largest 1-year increase in 20 years… and that was during a pandemic! So what are the highlights of this year's survey and what do they tell us?  Key Findings in 2020 / 2021 Hispanics are tactile . The data proves over both years that they love to test-drive vehicles. U.S. Hispanics prefer to be marketed to in Spanish . Of course, this number is nuanced depending on where you are in the States. For example, with such a long history in the U.S., Texan Hispanics require different messaging than those that might be new to our country. Brand reputation means a lot - whether it is your dealer brand or the manufacturer's . If you market in Spanish and focus on building a solid reputation with the community, then you will be on a good track. And if you sell vehicles whose brand is well recognized, then all the better. Cell phones are the primary shopping tool for U.S. Hispanics . What does this mean to you as a dealer? Your dealer mobile website best be fast, or you'll lose business. Sadly, dealer websites are often relatively slow.  Check out this article I wrote with David Kain and Tom Kline if you are curious. Like last year's data said, U.S. Hispanics are online and in force.  They over-index on social media use and are fully engaged on all the major platforms. This gives you, as a dealer, a straightforward direction to go… get a social media strategy in place and start marketing to Hispanics around your dealership in Spanish. Final Comments For this first article, we gave you an overview of our 2021 study and its highlights. Our next article will delve into raw stats, and our interpretations, around search and shopping behavior of U.S. Hispanics. In the meantime, think about what this article series means to you as a dealer. Do you know the size and composition of the Hispanic community around your dealership? Are you marketing to your local Hispanic community? If your answer is negative for either of those questions, then drop us an email, and we'll give you a hand. 
Latest Research: Evolution of The Car Shopping Journey in 2020

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CarGurus and GfK recently studied the digital path to purchase of over 3,000 car shoppers. We dug into that data, as well as data from a series of  COVID-19 Sentiment Studies  we conducted this year, to see how the shopping journey has evolved.  What we found is that today’s car buyers aren’t experts on car shopping anymore. Since many only replace their vehicles every five years, a lot can change between purchases. As a result, the process takes around five weeks for most. This leaves lots of time for shoppers to spend hours researching online and comparing options across multiple devices — all with the goal of finding a reliable vehicle at a price point they’re comfortable with.  Car Shoppers Are Full of Uncertainty at the Start of the Journey  Today’s consumers are increasingly beginning the research and shopping process full of uncertainty. In 2020, 41% of shoppers were undecided on the price they’re willing to pay for a vehicle — up 25% in just two years . Similarly, uncertainty around whether to buy new or used has also increased since 2018, going from 26% to 32%. To fill in the gaps and inform the many decisions they must make along the journey, shoppers turn to online sources to research their options. Shoppers estimate roughly 60% of their shopping process is spent online, researching, and comparing options.  While there are many online resources shoppers can use, including dealership, OEM, and industry sites, auto shopping sites are the most commonly used resource by car buyers: 93% of shoppers use auto shopping sites. And they visit this category of sites multiple times: the average shopper visits auto shopping sites 12 times before buying a vehicle, with the use of these sites only accelerating as the purchase nears. In comparison, 63% of car shoppers visit OEM sites, and 58% visit dealership sites, with the average shopper visiting them only 5.5 times total before purchase.  Car Shoppers Have Different Objectives When Using Desktop and Mobile Devices More and more consumers use a combination of desktop and mobile, switching continually between devices while shopping for their next vehicle. Though this makes it clear that the shopping experience must be optimized across all devices, each device plays a specific role throughout the process: Desktop drives vehicle comparisons and selection.  Desktop sessions deliver more engagement and play a critical role in the journey, especially as the purchase nears. Car shoppers spend 2x as long per session on desktop as on mobile, likely because the desktop experience provides a larger screen for comparisons and is free from distractions like text messages and push notifications.   Mobile is used at the dealership and to prepare for negotiations.  More than two-thirds of car buyers continue to research mobile during the dealership visit because of its convenience. The use of mobile devices on the lot has been steadily increasing — from 59% in  2018 , to 64% in  2019 , to 67% in 2020.  Vehicle and Dealership Selection Come Down to Price and Reliability When it comes to dealership selection, price greatly influences where consumers buy. That doesn’t necessarily mean shoppers are only looking for the lowest price though. It’s that they want to feel confident they’re paying a fair price for the vehicle they’re purchasing. On CarGurus, 81% of all leads go to vehicles with a fair deal rating or better, with the biggest percentage (37%) going to Fair deals.  Ultimately, reliability is paramount to consumers when choosing a vehicle. And it tends to be especially important to shoppers searching for a vehicle less than $10,000 (58%) and Gen X shoppers (49%).  Interest in Digital Retail Has Surged Since the Spread of COVID During this rollercoaster of a year, it’s not just car dealers who have been forced to adapt and evolve — consumers’ preferences around buying have also changed. Among car shoppers, both openness and preference for buying online roughly doubled due to the pandemic and, despite dealers re-opening to foot traffic, have not declined. Before Covid, 32% of car shoppers were open to buying online. According to CarGurus’ recent  COVID-19 Sentiment Study , now 60% are. Similarly, 37% would now prefer to buy online — up from 19%.  Ultimately, car shoppers are spending more time online, leaving fewer decisions to be made during the dealership visit. Optimizing the car shopping experience across both desktop and mobile, providing digital retail solutions, and offering competitively priced, reliable vehicles will increase your dealership’s likelihood of converting more shoppers into buyers.
Emerging Incentives Will Drive Demand. Here’s How Your Dealership Can Capitalize

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With  emerging markets  on the rise and a complete shift in consumer behavior, dealers are forced to get even more competitive (who knew this was possible) and win market share in the digital space.  Think about it.  In the past five months, COVID-19 has completely reshaped the way consumers think about living their lives. Single car suburban families are now in-market for a second vehicle as private vehicles take precedence over public transportation. Millennials who previously dominated ride-share are justifiably ready to purchase their first and possibly largest-- investment in their lives. This birth of new shoppers alongside an increase in digital demand means new and creative sales opportunities have become a critical component to keeping your dealership resilient.  During the initial shock of lockdown, dealerships were facing the challenge of having to shut down business. The   National Automobile Dealers Association  helped auto sales get deemed essential just days after shelter-in-place orders went into effect across the country. Dealers could continue to sell online, and some showrooms  stayed open  shortly after closure measures were relaxed. But this wasn’t the only challenge. Even with dealerships deemed essential, there wasn’t enough foot traffic in the showroom. That’s when OEMs released unprecedented incentives, including lease payment relief and deferred payment options. The economic downfall sparked  coronavirus car payment programs  that aimed to help those still looking to purchase a car amid job uncertainty. According to J.D. Power - far-reaching incentives are now being offered by 25 OEMs, including most major luxury, import, and domestic brands. These incentives range from long-term, low-rate financing to deferred payments for up to six months - all aggressively promoted in commercial advertising and the news. Take for example, one of the more aggressive payment plan options offered by Hyundai Motor America: they revived their Assurance Job Loss Protection Program, making up to six months of payments for new customers who lose their jobs by the end of the year due to COVID-19, and who purchased or leased their vehicles during the month of March. The dealership also offered buyers up to  120 days of deferred payments  and zero-interest financing for as long as 84 months.  When looking at the data from our index, it’s clear shoppers are showing real interest. 25% of conversions on Honda dealerships in March-April were on deferral payments alone, while Minnesota shoppers show an impressive 44.12% in conversions. However, these incentives driven by the government and OEMs are only as good as the dealers make them. Dealers need fast action to deploy messaging across all channels to react to the dynamic market. This means investing in technology that facilitates a complete, seamless digital experience that your shoppers will already be expecting. The dealers that can do this quickly will get the first crack at buyers.  There is no more effective platform than automation tools to rapidly unleash these incentives' power by targeting the right offer, to the right buyer, across every phase of the buying journey. Automated tools will be the first to ramp these incentives live and the most effective at testing and targeting.  And we see this today. Dealerships are testing COVID-19 specific messaging to keep shoppers engaged and ready to convert. More noticeably, an emergence of corona-related templates has become readily available for consumers across dealership websites. Dealers can alert shoppers if and when they’re open for business and that they remain sensitive to their concerns. Bottom line:  Dealers that rapidly deploy incentives to their marketing channels through automation will outperform their markets.   Moreover, dealers that utilize automation to deploy incentives will stay ahead of the curve, beat the competition, and in turn, stay not only alive but resilient. You can access the full report here .
The Pandemic's Ripple Effect: AI Marketing Tech Trumps Traditional Marketing Agencies

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With millions of consumers turning exclusively online in the recent months, dealerships were forced to acknowledge their aging digital infrastructure.  Outdated solutions, like traditional marketing agencies, simply didn’t cut it anymore. And for dealers, relying on intuition, and ‘what worked last month’ quickly became a thing of the past. While many dealerships rushed to implement new solutions to bring in “online” buyers, we saw that dealerships who stayed resilient-- or recovered quickly-- were ones that adopted automated technologies. In such a dynamic, unpredictable market, humans can’t respond to the way machines can.  As COVID-19 accelerated dealer-tech adoption, including digital retailing and beyond, the industry was given a unique opportunity: witness how automated software will react to unprecedented customer behavior. What will machine-driven learning understand from the new normal? What will it change, and how will it optimize to outperform humans in this ever-challenging reality?  With millions of additional  eyes on the screen , and a government-mandated lockdown, what would you expect the AI to do?  Here’s what we found Since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns, consumers naturally paused previous efforts to limit their time spent on social media apps. Social media consumption increased from 20.8% of total app usage (Jan 1) to 24.1% (Apr 12). Combined with a  21% increase  in total global usage, social media advertising has become more cost-efficient. For dealerships, this was translated into more clicks from social ads specifically.  Digging deeper into automated marketing results, we looked specifically at  Acquire , an automated SEM that leverages thousands of data points to strategically place ads across social, search, and display. As you would imagine, Acquire automatically shifted budget toward social channels as the machine learned that’s where shoppers were spending their time.  From February and March to April and May,  conversion rates on social media increased by 34%, and new users increased by 37%.  Meanwhile, the proportion of dealership budgets allocated towards social advertising (as opposed to search) nearly doubled. Below is an example of a northeastern automotive group that adopted automated technology for marketing before COVID-19 outbreak. While this group did lower overall advertising spend as a response to the economic downfall, the technology helped the dealer stay resilient and steadily increase leads from March to May, despite the pandemic. The graphs show a drastic shift in the budget from search to social and a steady lead haul, regardless of the overall budget decrease.  Here’s our consensus - and why you should hop onboard... As the market drastically changed, automation was able to respond instantly, with no lag time,  something that does not happen as quickly when using traditional, manual marketing methods.  With more budget dedicated to cost-efficient social media advertising, dealerships were able to identify and target shoppers where they were spending their time at home, resulting in  more leads at a lower cost. Because of the robust machine learning capabilities, this automated solution automatically adapted to consumer behavior changes in ways that humans  simply cannot.   From the data it’s clear - dealers will have to ditch the manual labor and instead become agile marketers by adopting top-tier automated solutions that will keep up with the changing environments - helping you beat out the competition at any given moment. For the full data report, please visit  here . 
Newly Released Research Reveals An Emergence of New Automotive Markets

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It’s Time to Act Fast. As a company that lives and breathes data, we turn to the numbers in times of uncertainty. When we need answers, we rely on data, not gut, to guide us for the smartest decisions. It allows us to gain full transparency into what’s working, and what's not, and in turn, act fast. In a world that has completely shifted to an online buying process, acting fast has never been more relevant. This shift in consumer behavior has highlighted for dealers and OEMs the splintered state of their digital infrastructure and placed a spotlight on solutions that serve a new wave of online shoppers. With digital sales in full motion, your dealership's website has become the most competitive space to win market share and shows that the battle for the sale, which used to take place in the showroom, is now taking place online. And we’re seeing this confirmed in the data.   New Market Segments are Emerging Post-COVID Interestingly, shopping engagement has remained robust during the 2020 pandemic. Specifically, new buying behaviors from markets that wouldn’t be looking for a car pre COVID-19, are now interested.  Here’s what we’re seeing: Single car suburban families may become two car suburban families With safety and hygiene top of mind, families that only owned one car will now be in the market for a second car so they can enjoy family trips in their private vehicle. Business commuters may return to driving for short-haul work trips With surveys showing that the majority of vehicle owners will rely first on their private vehicles for transportation, we can speculate that short distance business trips that used to be by plane will now be replaced with private vehicles. Millennials may buy a car earlier post-crisis Millennials are speculated to play a big part in automotive recovery from COVID-19. Millennials that hadn’t prioritized buying a car with the convenience of Uber or Lyft, are now looking into purchasing or leasing a car in the next five years.   These millennials, for example, represent 25% of the total US population , encompassing all those from age 21-38, a total of 82 million consumers . Car ownership in this demographic has been surveyed at 75%, with a skew toward non-urban consumers. The average first-time car buyer from this demographic is 29 years old and male . With a decrease in comfort with public transportation and ridesharing, it’s possible to envision an increase in buying interest from this demographic. A 5% increase in ownership would equate to approximately 4 million more shoppers in the market. Families may turn to road travel for vacations, rather than flights In a response to the psychological effects of COVID, families may be more inclined to avoid public transportation and take comfort in either taking a second car or using a larger vehicle - prompting them to update their current vehicle. According to a recent study by Cars, it's clear the industry is continuing in the stages of a rebound phase. Engaged shoppers in the final stages before making a purchase are up more than 5% week over week. This is not just hoping for a speedy recovery for the automotive industry, but it suggests that dealers need to prepare to engage these emerging markets. What worked pre COVID-19 will probably not be sufficient in a post COVID-19 era. How Will Your Dealership Recover? For many dealers, dominating your state by getting found online can become a complex operation, especially with a fluctuating market based on a number of factors including government rules, news coverage, CDC guidelines, and more.  With customers engrossed in an exclusively online research process -- even more than before--, your dealership needs to dominate the digital space. It’s about staying personal, staying present, and keeping up with your shoppers’ ever-changing interests. It will be critical for dealerships to intelligently identify, target, and engage online shoppers.  Out-adapting and out winning your competitors in this new space will require the most sophisticated, superior dealer technology.  Best Practices for a Quick Recovery  With emerging markets growing rapidly, traditional technology just won’t make the cut. Making data driven decisions no longer just means guesstimating where your marketing dollars should go, but really trusting automation and machine learning to bring your dealership to life in ways that a human simply will not have the bandwidth to maintain. Begin to utilize more with less While your advertising budgets may be limited, using AI-driven technology will do the dirty work of targeting your new shoppers effectively and efficiently - saving you time and money. Don’t let social distancing stop you Use the shift in consumer behavior to your advantage. Start investing in technology that facilitates a complete, seamless digital experience that your shoppers will already be expecting. With consumers becoming increasingly cautious and discriminating in how they choose to spend their time, make sure you act fast to engage these emerging markets. Access the full report here .