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7 Automotive Retail Trends to Watch for This Holiday Season

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Article Highlights:

  • Offering the best value, even if you can’t offer the best price.
  • Help guide your customers to the vehicle that best suits their needs.

‘Tis the season of big bargains, big spenders, and lots and lots of gift wrap.

When consumer buying behaviors continue to change year after year, your dealership’s success can be tied into how well you keep up with those trends. As you develop your marketing strategy for one of the craziest sales periods of the year, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Online, Well, Everything

Larger selections, deal comparisons, and the ability to complete a purchase while wearing your fuzziest pajama pants—these are the wonders of online shopping. Last year, 44% of shoppers opted to complete their holiday shopping online.

What you can do—Whether your dealership offers fully online purchases or simply a digitized way to speed up a few sections of the vehicle sales process, here are a few points to consider:

  • Comparisons from the couch: customers are likely looking at your inventory, your competitors’ inventory, and maybe a few vehicle listing sites as well. Make sure you’re the one offering the best value, even if you can’t offer the lowest price.
  • A helping hand: some of your customers will likely need a little help navigating their way through buying a car. Find the spots where your customers feel a little stuck, and provide online walk-through videos or articles to make sure your customers don’t feel lost (or give up and go elsewhere).
  • Lean-in: advertise how easy it is to buy a car with you online, or how great your online shopping experience is. Every competitive advantage counts, and with all those fuzzy pajama pants on the couch shoppers, this is one shopping experience to tout from the highest mountain top (aka, put this message in your advertising!).

The Workday Consumer

Consumers are shopping online (nothing new), but how they’re shopping online is quite different this season.

Earlier this year, Microsoft found a new buyer persona: The Workday Consumer. These customers are doing their research for high consideration items (ahem, cars) at different times, from different devices, and under different scrutiny than ever before.

What you can do—Read more about the workplace consumer and how your dealership can reach them in our blog dedicated entirely to serving this critical buyer type.

Privacy Pressures

Cyberattacks are a real threat, and with the amount of data businesses collect, consumers and governments around the world are challenging businesses to enact additional security measures to protect the privacy and personal data of their customers.

What you can do—Look for areas where your dealership can improve its information security program. Finding the answers to these questions is a good start:

  • Who at your dealership has access to customer data? Do they need complete access, or will partial access suffice?
  • How and where is your data stored? Is it encrypted?
  • What about when you dispose of consumer data? How often to you purge the information you no longer need? Is it disposed of in a secure manner?

You may need to pose these questions to any marketing partner that also accesses your customer data. Secure partnerships are crucial to your and your consumers’ data.

Inventory Inclinations

It sounds like an understatement at this point to say that the inventory shortage has affected consumer buying preferences when it comes to new cars. What’s more, is that it has really given your customers three options when it comes to fulfilling their needs:

  • Order the exact car they want (down to the color, trim level, and features) and wait for it to arrive
  • Overlook one or two undesirable factors (maybe purchasing a car from a dealership 100 miles away, or getting it in that shade of blue even though they prefer silver)
  • Simply hold out on purchasing until options aren’t as limited

What you can do—The odds of the inventory shortage ending soon are slim, though not out of the picture. Until then, help guide your customers to the choice that best suits their needs. Some are going to be able to wait for their perfect car (and you can act as their concierge throughout that process), and others may need guidance to finding something more accessible to them today (and you can use your inventory to do so).

Extended Lifetime

Remember those customers that were holding out on buying a new car until the inventory shortage let up? Well, this is where they are now: they’ve owned their current car for a while, and at this point, unless their car breaks down, they’ll continue owning it. In fact, they’ll actively try to keep it maintained so they can wait out this inventory shortage storm for a while longer.

What you can do—Lots of people travel to see friends and family over the holidays. Help make sure they get there safely.

Marketing your fixed operations can help your dealership build trusting relationships with your customers who aren’t in the market to buy right now, not to mention you can get those customers into regular maintenance cycles for return visits (and loyalty!). You can even bring them back in for those previously declined services with pre-holiday vehicle maintenance and consistent follow up at regular intervals with exact messages meant for their current vehicle’s unique maintenance schedule and needs.

It’s Electric (Boogie Woogie Woogie)

Electric cars. They’ve been around for a while, but they’re, like, cool now.

EV sales rose 62% in the US just in the first half of this year. Electric cars now account for roughly 5% of all new car sales. With gas prices remaining high, that number is only going to increase.

What you can do—Before your customers can decide if they are personally interested in an electric car, they have to be given the resources to learn all the nitty gritty details. Find ways that your dealership can become a valuable resource about everything EVs in this blog.


We all know that video is an essential element to reaching today’s customers. That said, one or two video ads on your dealership’s YouTube page won’t be enough to keep your customers interested.

What you can do—9 out of 10 viewers said that they want to see more video content from brands and businesses. Give the people what they want! Custom video content can help you boost your market share. Work to make the content that your customers ask for the most, whether that’s test drive videos, tutorials for operating particular features, vehicle maintenance help, or something else entirely.


The holiday sales season can be a high risk, high reward opportunity for any business. As your dealership works to develop and implement your marketing strategy, it’s important to think about consumer behaviors that will affect how (and why) customers make purchase decisions.  Best of luck!

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Mollie Swygart is a marketing communications professional at Reynolds and Reynolds. She is an expert on Reynolds’ suite of cutting-edge marketing products, their functionalities, and how they can be utilized to improve dealership success. Mollie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art and English from Marietta College. She also obtained an Associate’s Degree in Marketing from Rhodes State College.

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