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Canadian Car Shoppers Insights

This coming year, Canadian car buyers — especially millennials and Gen Zers — will be seeking an omnichannel path to purchase: a hybrid of online and offline. Most of the initial discovery happens online, with shoppers vacillating between exploration and evaluation before making their decision. This “messy middle” is full of micro-moments as consumers take advantage of everything the internet has to offer: from YouTube car reviews, to side-by-side comparisons, to the chance to build out a car with a configurator tool, or even simulating what it’s like to walk around or sit inside the car using virtual reality or 3D tools. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 Canadians say they researched their car purchase online before visiting the dealership.2

Close-up of African woman standing in the city and using her mobile phone she order a taxi online

To attract and retain auto consumers, the online and offline journey has to be seamless. Even if a shopper’s initial discovery happens online, their offline research — from dealer visits to test drives — remains incredibly important. In 2022 the vast majority of shoppers, 93% to be exact, still completed their purchase at the dealership.3

This trend is changing fast, though. Last year, 6% of Canadian shoppers bought their new car online, a 6X growth versus pre-pandemic, and the majority of buyers (54%) say they expect their next purchase to be completely contactless, from discovery to home delivery.4 With virtual buying becoming more common, dealers should be aware of the pain points that shoppers may be looking to avoid at the dealership, which include pressure from a salesperson or attempts to sell unwanted services.