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Gen Z buyers find car shopping more difficult than older drivers

Gen Z buyers find car shopping more difficult than older drivers

As Generation Z members enter professional life, details about their car buying habits are beginning to emerge. Some of the trends identified by a recent survey aren’t surprising, but the youngest group of drivers view car shopping differently than older generations.

Data provider CDK Global running the study by surveying 1,100 people of all ages who bought a car from a dealer in 2021; no mention is made of whether it was new or used. An important point worth noting is that 56% of the respondents of the Generation Z generation (that is, they were born between 1997 and 2012) had bought their first car. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, 81% of Gen Z buyers said they want to take the time to buy a car and understand all of their options. That figure dropped to 73%, 60% and 45% for millennials, Gen Z and baby boomers, respectively. It goes without saying that older customers understood the car buying process much better.

Similarly, 16% of Gen Z buyers said they would rather work with a knowledgeable sales rep, versus 12% for Millennials, 8% for Gen X buyers, and 4% for Baby Boomers. However, they expect sellers to follow a certain etiquette. Gen Z drivers were least likely to recommend the dealership experience to a friend, and 27% said they were annoyed by having to wait for a salesperson.

The same study found that the biggest dealer frustrations for Gen Z buyers were additional costs (52%), waiting for a seller (45%) and waiting for financing and insurance (38%). Buying a car online is emerging as an alternative to walking to a dealership and spending an afternoon there, but that may not be the ideal solution for younger drivers either. The survey surprisingly found that 22% of Gen Z buyers (born after the Internet) found it difficult to buy a car online, compared to 5% of Millennials and 7% of Gen X buyers.

Dealing with the downsides of buying a car is just as tedious for a 20-year-old as it is for a 72-year-old, although the pain points are different. In any case, the younger drivers we share the road with ensure that they get a nice reward at the end of the process: 39% of Gen Z buyers surveyed took home a luxury car, according to the survey, compared to 29% of Millennials, 27% of Generation Xers and 12% of Baby Boomers.