Consumers want to spend less time in dealerships when they shop for vehicles and focus on the product, a new Cox Automotive survey showed.
In the survey of 2,000 consumers, which focused on dealership experience concepts, just 1 in 3 respondents said they are "very satisfied" with the current dealership model. Seven out of 10 consumers said the idea of a "brand experience center," rather than a traditional showroom, was appealing.
Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst at Autotrader, owned by Cox Automotive, said the study found "trailblazer" consumers, who are most likely to embrace new technology and services, will be the new mainstream consumer by mid-decade.
"It's beyond being interested in tech," Krebs said about the survey released Wednesday. "They use those kinds of things. The industry really needs to pay attention to the trailblazer because they will be setting the tone and everybody else will be following them eventually."
Sixty-three percent of trailblazer consumers said they would be open to switch vehicle brands in order to get new technology and services, Krebs said.
"Consumers want to focus on the fun aspects of the shopping experience," she said. "We find over and over, test drive is one of the favorite things people do when they're buying a vehicle and getting to know all the new technology."
Six in 10 consumers said they want help from dealership staff who aren't salespeople.
"They want a different kind of person in the dealership and a different kind of relationship with that person," Krebs said. "More of a product specialist. It's a shift of focus, a change in the salesperson's job. … These are not complicated ideas. Yes, they require effort, a reallocation of resources and maybe different kinds of training. … It's much more service-oriented."
The study also showed 86 percent of consumers want to complete at least one step of the purchase process online, with 60 percent of consumers saying they would use the time saved on getting to know the vehicle more.
"None of these are all-new kinds of ideas," Krebs said. "The process that they want is much more focused on the product than on the deal. They want more of that process online."