Image from: Driving / Shutterstock

We’ve talked a lot about mobile the last few months following the launch of our study, The New Mobile Mantra. In this post, we’ll explore how mobile is impacting shopping in the auto category specifically.

Mobile is an additional tool, not a desktop replacement

For auto shopping, we find that mobile is not replacing desktop, but rather being used as an additional tool that is used differently depending on time and complexity.

Automotive Shoppers Completed Activity

For example, shopping tools that require more time and investment (e.g., Build Your Own, Photo Gallery, etc.) are completed more on desktop, while faster activities such as looking up offers and searching for inventory are done more on mobile devices.

This finding of device preference by task length is not solely an automotive finding, but a trend we see across industries; consumer tolerance for tasks on smartphones falls off sharply after 5 minutes. Furthermore, 81% of consumers prefer to complete 5 minute tasks via smartphone vs. only 43% for 10-20 minute tasks.

Device preference by task

Millennials are making device preference a location issue

One logical hypothesis based on these results is that device preference may align closely with where (both figuratively and literally) the consumer is in their purchase journey. That is, mobile devices (specifically smartphones) may be used closer to the point of sale vs. desktop being used more during the research and information gathering stage.

Results of smartphone usage by location suggest that this notion is true, with 17% of shoppers stating they have used their smartphone while at the dealership. Most important for marketers is that this trend is growing among Millennials – with 23% stating usage at a dealership vs. only 12% for 55+ year olds. Can you say, “geo-targeting”?

Smartphone user age

Looking Ahead

It’s important to note that these insights do not show mobile replacing desktop, but rather that the devices are used for different activites. While greater connectivity up to the point of sale is welcomed news for marketers to influence purchase behaviors, it also raises a new degree of targeting complexity.

Reach out to us at for more insight into questions like:

  • How does auto shopping site (e.g., OEM brand sites vs. Third Party Sites) visitation differ by device?
  • How does mobile app vs. browser usage differ for auto shoppers?
  • In what locations do auto shoppers use their mobile devices?
  • What can auto brands do to acquire, engage and elevate the mobile experience?

Comments are closed here.