A few years back I authored an article for Dealer magazine exploring the two basic types of customers considering the purchase of a vehicle. The ‘Wanna Buys’ who are interested in trading up for no other reason than they just ‘want to,’ and the ‘Gotta Buys’ whose ‘pain of same’ has exceeded the anticipated ‘pain of change,’ forcing them into a buying decision. The simple truth is: today there are more opportunities to motivate a ‘Gotta Buyer’ through advertising and more opportunities to convince those folks this is the right time and place to close the deal.
‘Wanna Buyers’ purchase vehicles on a regular trading cycle for many reasons: the latest technology, boredom, pride, vanity, etc. The two biggest reasons ‘Wanna Buys’ purchase new vehicles is: they want to, and they can. However, in the past few years the greatest drop in new vehicle sales has been from the ‘Wanna Buy’ column. Even the well-heeled are travelling the path of caution, deferring elective, non-essential major purchases by months, even years. In fact, according to a recent Gallup tracking poll, the majority of Americans in all income categories are spending less and cutting back. Even 48% of top earners (over $240K a year) are making cuts in weekly spending and delaying non-essential purchases. It is in this group that the lengthening trade cycle is most evident. The ‘Wanna Buyers’ are still out there, just less of them. And although I haven’t seen the stats to back this up, I’d be willing to bet the average gross on the ‘Wanna Buyers’ has gone down in this extended ‘buyers market.’
A few weeks back I came across a quote from financial author, radio host and motivational speaker Dave Ramsey: “Not until the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change will you embrace change.” In the case of the ‘Gotta Buyers’ the ‘pain of the same’ is the major factor bringing that customer to the showroom. A vehicle is wearing out, needs repairs, is too small or too big, gets lousy gas mileage, won’t pass inspection etc. The ‘pain of change’ is the fear of the unknown. A downpayment, a larger monthly payment or an extended obligation. What do we say in an advertisement or on the showroom floor that convinces the ‘Gotta Buyer’ that the ‘pain of the same’ is greater than the ‘pain of change’ (or will be soon?) How do we move this buyer to action?
Sharing the ‘pain’ is an effective device. If the ‘pain’ is being upside down, the solution might be an offer to pay off the trade-in when you make a deal. If the pain is fear of higher payments, the solution might be tremendous savings in repairs and substantial savings in better fuel economy. If the ‘pain’ is fear of unaffordable breakdowns and repairs, the solution may be a vehicle that offers a ‘worry free’ warranty that may actually outlive the payment book. Many Hyundai and Kia dealers are convinced their warranties have overcome the ‘pain’ and fear of many buyers and increased the Korean automakers market shares.
Is the ‘pain’ of the ‘Gotta Buyer’ concerns over financing? Advertising ways for the buyer to fill out a credit application on your web site, with pre-approval and even the opportunity to evaluate a trade online may be an attractive solution.
Many ‘Gotta Buyers’ have moved from consideration of new vehicles to the used vehicle arena, thinking they can no longer afford a new vehicle. Often they are pleasantly surprised to find they have ‘new car credit’ on a vehicle that will not only fit their budget, but offer a worry free warranty and more savings with dramatic gas mileage improvement.
The key words for an effective message to the ‘Gotta Buyer’: sincerity, solutions, benefits, value and straight-talk. “We feel your pain. We know you need a vehicle. It makes sense to take action now. We’re helping hundreds of people in your same situation get the vehicle they need, the features they need, at a price and payment that makes sense.”
Many ‘Gotta-Buyers’ are upside-down in their trade, or looking to maximize their equity. They may be trying to wait it out or sell the vehicle prior to making a purchase. A number of dealers have found that an offer to purchase a vehicle in the dealerships ads, even if the customer doesn’t buy from them, is a powerful call to action. ‘Gotta-Buyers’ have a greater sense of urgency than ‘Wanna-Buyers.’ How quickly you respond to an email or a phone call may make all the difference.
Fortunately for us, the ‘Gotta-Buy’ customer is increasing in numbers. More used cars with higher mileage than ever are on the road. Sustained high fuel prices are forcing increased consideration of better gas mileage vehicles. Most of these customers require financing. Aligning your marketing efforts with the mindset of the ‘Gotta-Buyer’ will drive more of these customers to your showroom and website.