Twelve Percent of U.S. Consumers Making Automotive Purchases Buy Online

A well-developed online strategy rises in importance as more Millennials are hitting the road

Port Washington, NY, July 5, 2017 – According to global information company The NPD Group, 12 percent of U.S. consumers who have made an automotive purchase have done so online[1].  While this e-commerce penetration falls on the lower end of the spectrum compared to other industries tracked by NPD, online is steadily gaining more share in the aftermarket as consumers, especially Millennials, turn to the internet to seek products and research discounts.


Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Car Care Track, 12 months ending March 2017
(Based on percentage of category buyers who purchased the category online; for example, 31% of automotive paint buyers made that purchase online)

“A prominent online presence is essential for automotive brands, retailers, and service providers to exceed in today’s highly competitive aftermarket environment, especially as Millennials enter their peak driving years,” said Nathan Shipley, director, automotive industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Ensuring that virtual shelves are stocked, product information is up-to-date, and reviews are high in both quality and number of ratings are building blocks for online success. Interacting with customers via social media is today’s way of continuously conversing and incentivizing consumers to return to your product or store time after time.”

As Baby Boomers retire, relinquishing the work commute from their routine, Millennials are simultaneously coming into their peak driving years. Actively online, 44 percent of Millennials do at least half of their overall shopping online; over one-third always seek out online reviews before making a purchase; and about 1-in-3 spend two or more hours per day on social media[2].

Millennials’ online engagement with the aftermarket is no exception. In fact, they represent the highest share of online aftermarket sales. Compared to other generations, Millennials are more attracted by the ability to check prices online when selecting a service provider, and are more likely to rely on positive online reviews when making a decision[3].  In addition, they are 50 percent more likely than other consumers to watch online videos to learn about automotive repairs. In terms of social media, nearly 40 percent of Millennials say they would consider using an offer found on social media towards a purchase for their vehicle.      


Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Car Care Track, 12 months ending March 2017

“Capitalizing on the promotional and educational opportunities that exist online is a way for brands and retailers to differentiate themselves from all the noise and competition in the industry today,” said Shipley. “Whether using the online platform as a gateway to driving more in-store traffic, or devising a strategy to encourage more online purchasing, brands and retailers need to leverage this channel to win over the up-and-coming aftermarket demographic: the Millennials.”


[1] Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Car Care Track, 12 months ending March 2017
[2 ] Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Outlook Survey 2017
[3] Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / The Passenger Car Motor Oil Purchase Journey 2017

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