How a consumer insights agency used a path-to-purchase study to understand the car Buying Journey.

The way in which cars are sold has evolved in many ways over the years. Traditionally, cars were sold through brick-and-mortar showrooms where consumers would make their purchasing decisions. However, nowadays most customer path-to-purchase when buying a car is much different. With online forums and websites and more makes and models than one could imagine, the path-to-purchase for a car buyer can span several months and include a lot of online and offline research with a wide array of influences.


The Challenge

When our client contacted us, they had been approached by a an online automotive marketplace that wanted to really understand the path-to-purchase of various demographics of car-buyers.

Without knowing who was using their website and their motivations for doing so, they were unsure of just how their consumers were ending up there and what cars they were eventually buying.

But getting an in-the-moment insight into the multiple stages and tools involved in the path-to-purchase of a car was the real challenge.

The Goals


Our clients objectives were to:

  • Understand and separate the multiple stages involved in consumers path-to-purchase of cars

  • Gain an insight into the motivations, behaviours and influences that affect the purchasing decisions of car buyers

  • Understand how consumers used both the internet and an online automotive marketplace to research their options when purchasing a car


The Solution


When it comes to path-to-purchase, mobile ethnography can be extremely powerful in getting closer to the decision-making process of consumers. It’s fair to say that purchasing a car will involve week, if not months of research and contemplation before a purchase is made, so understanding the journey can be difficult given the lengthy time frame.

Using an all-at-once task list, our client assigned 4 tasks to respondents to be completed over the course of 4 weeks. Over the course of the four weeks, respondents uploaded video, photos, screenshots explaining why they were buying a new car, what was influencing their decisions and what the were finding difficult in their search. By segmenting their target groups using the Indeemo platform, they were then able to tailor their task lists to showroom buyers, used-car deal hunters and first-time car buyers. This meant that they were able to thoroughly examine the divergent path-to-purchase of different consumers.


What then became especially insightful were the mobile-screen recordings uploaded by respondents showing how they were engaging with the both the end-clients online marketplace as well as social media, informational websites and forums that were playing a part in influencing the path-to-purchase for clients. Getting this in-the-moment window into the online behaviours of car-buyers as they talked through their actions meant that our client could fully understand how they were finding information, navigating their website and how the user experience was influencing their purchasing decisions.

If you’d like to learn more about how a mobile diary-study can help your online marketplace or website understand consumers path-to-purchase, please get in touch sing the form below.

Contact Us

We’ve supported researchers trying to understand the path to purchase for everything from smartphones to domestic appliances to cars to hotels to garage doors and aquarium filtration systems!

The one thing they all have in common is that the journey is non-linear, random and omni-platform.

If you’d like to discuss how we might be able to support your next project, please submit your details here and we will be in touch ASAP.

We’re looking forward to speaking with you.

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