The consumer mindset has undergone a significant transformation in recent years.

While in the past, consumers were primarily focused on finding the cheapest products or services to save money, today’s consumers are looking for value, convenience, and personalization. This shift in consumer mindset should signal loudly and clearly to companies that it’s time to evolve business strategies to cater to modern consumer preferences. This article will explore both the reasons behind this cultural consumer change and how your dealership should respond.


The Changing Digital Landscape

Over the past several years—even in the midst of a pandemic and resulting supply chain disruptions, staffing inventory shortages, and inflation spikes—consumers have continued to demand more from businesses. They now want more ways to buy online, more customer service channels, and more personalization from the purchase process.

This overall digitization of the buyer’s journey is changing the way businesses do business. Modern consumers like the convenience of shopping anytime and anywhere, and they’re forcing entire industries to accommodate their new habits.

This change of behaviors is here to stay—consumers are more entrenched than ever in their modern purchase preferences, and more businesses are coming along for the ROI. In fact, some 92% of consumers who began shopping online since 2019 have now made it an indispensable habit, according to research by McKinsey & Company.


A Choice Buying Experience

The current state of consumer affairs is all about choices. Online shopping has broadened buying horizons, and with so much information and so many options available, consumers can find exactly what they want and ensure that they’re getting the best possible deal to boot.

In order to compete in this environment, dealers must embrace technology. The ability to sell inventory online is and will continue to be critical to business success. While dealerships have traditionally relied on in-person visits to drive sales, their customer base has shifted online. Forward-minded dealerships are rethinking their marketing strategies to ensure that shoppers can easily find them online before they find their competition.


The Age of Information Overload

Easy access to a literal world of information has been the key catalyst for consumer change. With the ubiquity of the internet and social media, consumers now have access to more information about products and services than ever before. They can compare prices, read reviews, and research the benefits of different products. As a result, today’s consumers are better informed and more empowered to make purchasing decisions based on their values and priorities.

While more information is always good for consumers, it presents both a significant challenge and opportunity for dealers. With so much competition online, dealers need to maintain (and differentiate) their online presence to stand out. This signifies giving consumers exactly what they want—value, convenience, and personalization.

It means maintaining an information-rich online presence to both attract and accommodate online customers. When it comes to your website, be open and upfront about your brand values. Ensure that every consumer knows exactly what you offer on each page they visit. Include interesting content and captivating imagery that aligns with your brand values and doesn’t distract or detract from your website. Be intentional with your social posts and respond to consumers who contact you on social media in a timely and professional manner.

Perhaps most importantly, giving consumers exactly what they want means keeping your inventory listings up to date. Be descriptive and give website visitors all the information they want about a unit, especially if that unit has interesting features that consumers want.


In the Footsteps of eCommerce Giants

Taking full advantage of consumer preferences for convenience, eCommerce giants like Amazon have changed the game for smaller businesses. They have set a new standard of online shopping, and the rest of the business world is trying to catch up.

Whether it’s fair or not, consumers compare their experiences at these eCommerce giants with the online experiences they find at your dealership. They expect their purchase experiences to be highly personalized, but more than 50% of consumers feel brands aren’t doing enough to provide personalization, according to Digital 2023 Global Overview Report.

By using targeted advertisements that reflect their interests, your dealership can give consumers a convenient online experience that caters to their personal needs. This type of advertising is laser-focused and allows your dealership to connect with the right shoppers at exactly the right time to maximize your chances of landing a lead and closing a sale. You can also re-engage shoppers based on their website browsing and offer transparent pricing, including the ability to calculate monthly payments.


A New Generation of Browsers and Buyers

Even without the influence of the pandemic and new digital technology, businesses would still be trending toward digitization because the shopper demographic is changing. Millennials are quickly becoming the primary consumer demographic, and Gen Z will eventually follow. In fact, millennials now make up 30% of the digital shopping population, according to Oberlo. These younger generations are extremely tech-savvy, having grown up in a digital world.

Unfortunately, ineffective strategies and operations can derail your dealership’s ability to deliver the online experience these modern customers want. One way to improve your business processes and stand out to this modern demographic is to prioritize social media. Today’s consumers, especially younger consumers, supplement traditional online searches with more personal, more visual social channel searches.

Roughly half of adults who use social media are seeking out brands on social platforms. By the end of 2022, consumers were spending 38% of their total internet time on social media, according to Digital 2023 Global Overview Report. Social media allows you to be where consumers are and provides a real opportunity for you to engage shoppers and drive them to your website.


Final Thoughts

The consumer mindset has changed for good. Modern consumers seek online experiences first, and dealers need to adapt in order to stay competitive. By embracing technology, prioritizing convenience and transparency, and offering personalized experiences, you can meet changing consumer needs and expectations, and build lasting relationships that evolve along with modern shoppers.