Online used car disruptors Cazoo and Cinch are storming ahead in the recognition stakes thanks to millions spent in advertising.
The fact disruptors seemingly offer customers national stock choice and are perceived to save them time are the biggest factors driving customers towards buying online.
A survey of 632 in-market car buyers by What Car?, carried out exclusively for Car Dealer Magazine, found that Cazoo was the most recognisable brand of the online digital disruptors with 31.3 per cent of those surveyed knowing of the firm.
Cinch was second with 30 per cent of car buyers recognising the online car dealer.
Heycar was third (12.3 per cent) and Carzam fourth (5.7 per cent).
Haymarket editorial director Jim Holder said: ‘The marketing power of Cazoo and Cinch makes them unstoppable forces in this space, with their recognition levels among our audience neck and neck, and in line with the huge budgets they have thrown at awareness.
‘To have 6/10 people recognising the brand after just a few years of coming into existence shows again the power of sustained, heavy marketing spend.’
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The most popular reason customers gave as to the perceived benefit of buying online was the fact it ‘save times’ (16.9%) with others liking the fact they can choose from national stock (16.6%).
The fact customers didn’t have to deal with a salesman (12.9%) was the third most popular reason and the fact the car could be delivered to the customer’s door fourth (10.1%).
Not being able to look at the car first or test drive it were the biggest factors putting buyers off online deals – the very thing traditional dealers can offer every buyer.
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Holder added: ‘The advantages of national stock choice and being able to save time when you buy from online used car dealers are standouts, and both point to the advantages of the connected, widespread network they have built up and the fact that you can do the vast majority of your homework from home on undoubtedly slick, simple digital platforms.
‘However, the negatives remain around uncertainty of buying a car unseen, or without a test drive.’
Holder said that the findings show that traditional car dealers who raise their digital game can compete with the online disruptors.
He added: ‘The negative cited by respondents play into the hands of traditional dealers, who as they raise their game online really can do everything bar – probably – match those marketing budgets, which we have to remember are the prime reason these companies have been loss making, and which won’t be sustainable forever.
‘The big dealer groups have brilliant websites now, nationwide coverage of physical venues with all the opportunities to look at and drive cars, fantastic service levels and, of course, are in reality covered by the same consumer laws regarding money-back guarantees if the consumer wants to buy unseen.
‘The challenge is having the marketing power to communicate those benefits while sitting in ownership structures that demand ongoing, sustainable profits – but there’s no question that the biggest groups are more than alert to the opportunities and ready to provide more of a challenge than they perhaps have to date.’