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BIG CHANGES in consumer behaviour were seen by the online car supermarket BuyaCar.co.uk during 2020 as more motorists headed online to purchase a used car, paid substantially more and switched their car brand loyalties.

Evidence also grew that the online car market is maturing as older customers increasingly adopted what was previously a way of buying cars more commonly taken up by younger drivers, the company said.

Insights into the strangest and often most challenging year ever for the automotive industry, revealed by Buyacar.co.uk include:

  • Dramatically fluctuating prices paid for cars – but consistently trending upwards
  • A rapidly maturing customer base
  • Women driving the lion’s share of growth in internet car sales
  • A 25% increase in visitors to BuyaCar.co.uk

Among the most significant trends identified by BuyaCar analysts was a change in the most common age of customer choosing to buy a used car online, increasing from 24 in 2019 to 27 years old in 2020.

This trend corresponds with BuyaCar research last year which revealed that confidence in the online car buying experience is strongest among people in their 30s and 40s, closely followed by those in their 50s.

BuyaCar.co.uk believes that this reflects a generally maturing online car market, which is evolving rapidly from its origins as the car-buying method of choice for the ‘Amazon and Instagram generation’ to a fully mainstream approach by all motorists. Although an outlier, the oldest BuyaCar.co.uk customer in 2020 was 91, compared with 2019’s oldest customer who was 70.

Many of the changes seen by BuyaCar.co.uk analysts in 2020 were linked to the Covid-19 crisis, which made all online suppliers of goods and services the go-to choice for consumers, as movement restrictions and other health measures interrupted normal shopping. As a result, BuyaCar.co.uk itself saw a 25% increase in visitors, reaching 9.8 million people over the course of 2020.

The prices paid for cars also fluctuated dramatically, compared with the previous year. But when short-term swings are ironed out the year saw an overall 8.9% increase on December 2019. This was driven largely by buyers choosing higher quality premium brand cars at higher cost – especially as Britain emerged from its first lockdown.

Reflecting the growing consumer taste for premium products, Mercedes-Benz almost swept the board in terms of popularity among the cars sold on BuyaCar.co.uk. For example, in 2019 the most popular choice among 18-24 year old customers was the Ford Fiesta. But in 2020 these drivers were most likely to buy a Mercedes-Benz A-Class – which was also the most popular model for 25-34 year olds and overall top performer for the year.

Mercedes also took the top slot for customers aged 35-44 with the C-Class, while the other evergreen top choice was the Nissan Juke for drivers aged 45-54 and those aged 65+. The Kia Sportage proved most popular for drivers aged 55-64.

Christofer Lloyd, Editor of BuyaCar.co.uk. said: “Customers decided to spend more on their cars, often by choosing slightly older and more prestigious cars, which was a phenomenon we began to see especially in the wake of the first countrywide lockdown.

“Brand loyalties also showed signs of changing as more people than ever before decided to opt for German models, which often edged out more traditional choices – especially among younger customers.”

 

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