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What do Gen Z car buyers think about the retail process? – Brendan Dougherty | CDK Global

CDK Global, a leading provider of automotive dealership solutions, recently released findings from a survey conducted by the company to better understand car shopper preferences and friction points within the dealership experience. Today on Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome Brendan Dougherty, Director of Modern Retail at CDK Global, to discuss the findings and take a closer look at Gen Z car shoppers.

In December 2021, CDK Global surveyed over 1,100 consumers who purchased a vehicle in the previous 12 months. The study initially began as a broader look at friction points for both car dealers and consumers. But after diving deeper into the data, CDK uncovered interesting trends around Gen Z shoppers and how they compare with other generations. 

Gen Z shoppers were born between 1997 – 2012, but for the purposes of the study, CDK only surveyed young consumers between the ages of 18 – 25. Gen Z is the next up-and-coming car buying generation; by 2025, they will represent 27% of the workforce. There is considerable buying power in this audience. Key takeaways from the survey include:

  • 56% of Gen Z respondents reported that this was their first vehicle purchased
  • Gen Z reported the highest interest in luxury brands compared to other generations at 39%. They are attracted to the brand experience that many luxury brands provide.
  • 81% said they wanted to take their time and understand all of their options during the car buying process.
  • 19% said they want to go through the process as quickly as possible

Dougherty explains that Gen Z shoppers also value information from experts to help them understand what can be a complex transaction. They are concerned about price and negotiation but were surprised by the redundancy of tasks. The most frustrating thing about the process was being left alone in the showroom, the Gen Z audience said. They also reported the lowest next promoter score out of any generation by a significant margin. 

To better serve the Gen Z shopper, Dougherty says car dealers shouldn’t assume that they want to complete the transaction as fast as possible. This generation seeks more detailed information and knowledge from auto retail professionals. They want to be guided through the process, not left to their own devices waiting around the showroom. Take enough time to explain the jargon and the fees associated with the purchase. If you provide that expert guidance, Dougherty is confident that you will be rewarded with loyalty and higher net promoter scores.


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