When it’s time to look for a new car, Canadians are increasingly steering away from dealerships and turning to their smartphones. In fact, 74% of Canadian auto shoppers use a mobile device to do their vehicle research.12
What’s fueling this trend, and how do mobile, Facebook and Instagram drive the different stages of the auto purchase process?


To find out, Facebook IQ analyzed Facebook data and commissioned Ipsos to survey 1,500 people in Canada who planned to purchase or lease a vehicle in the next year.

We learned that these days, auto shoppers opt for mobile research because it’s convenient and allows them to take the wheel. Mobile also provides access to Facebook and Instagram, where shoppers can learn about new options, share cars they’re considering and get immediate feedback from friends and family. Nearly half (47%) of Canadian auto shoppers told us they use Facebook to get information about vehicles, and 29% said they use Instagram to do so.

Auto shoppers prefer digital research to dealership visits

Our survey revealed that many Canadian auto shoppers want greater control and convenience during the purchase process. In turn, many conduct vehicle research online and visit the dealership solely for the final transaction.

Auto shoppers turn to mobile more often as the finish line looms

As Canadian auto shoppers get closer to making a decision, they tend to rely even more heavily on mobile. 68% of auto shoppers who are 6 months or more away from making a purchase conduct research on a mobile device, and this number jumps to 81% for auto shoppers who are 1–3 months away. Auto shoppers also tend to use mobile devices exclusively for research as they near transaction time.

This uptick in mobile research at the end of the process may be due to an increased need for on-the-go answers while visiting dealerships. 40% of auto shoppers told us they would use a mobile device at a dealership to compare prices, and 24% said they would use it to discuss an offer with family and friends.


Mobile ads capture auto shoppers’ attention

Increasing mobile usage means that mobile ads are getting noticed. 39% of Canadian auto shoppers recalled seeing an ad or information about a vehicle on a mobile device in the past year, and this number was even higher among Millennials.2 Car-related content seen on Facebook is memorable, too. Nearly a third (32%) of auto shoppers recalled seeing an ad or information about vehicles on Facebook on a mobile device.


Facebook and Instagram are key sources of guidance

Most Canadian auto shoppers (85%) say they get information about vehicles and the vehicle purchase process from family, friends or colleagues, and many use Facebook and Instagram to get input from these connections. They might use Facebook and Instagram to ask others about their car-buying experiences, discuss vehicle features, get recommendations for trustworthy dealers or see images and videos of new models.

Facebook conversation trends on the platform can shed light on what consumers care about. Here are the topics that came up most frequently in car-related conversations on Facebook in Canada over a 30-day period earlier this year.1

The data shows that “truck” was the most mentioned topic. Men spoke more about specific vehicle models (such as the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger), while women spoke more about broad vehicle categories (such as trucks, sport utility vehicles and sedans).1 The only specific vehicle that women spoke more about than men was the Honda Civic.1 This trend was consistent with our survey data, which showed that female auto shoppers are significantly less likely than male auto shoppers to have strong brand preferences.

Vehicle features didn’t drive as much chatter as makes and models, but younger men talked more about Turbochargers and younger women spoke more about Bluetooth technology.1


Auto brands and dealers can provide a better roadmap

Many Canadian auto shoppers don’t see themselves as experts on the car-buying process: only 52% agree they know what they’re doing when purchasing a vehicle, and this number is even lower for Millennials and women. This could mean that many auto shoppers don’t feel confident about their ability to compare models, evaluate financing options or negotiate a good deal.

And some auto shoppers, particularly younger auto shoppers, fear their lack of car-buying expertise will backfire. Half of auto shoppers ages 18–24 said they worry about making the wrong decision. This all means that there’s an opportunity for marketers to help customers—especially Millennials and women—feel more savvy. Check out the strategies below to learn how to connect with your key audience segments.

What it Means for Marketers

  • Accelerate your move to mobile

Auto shoppers are shifting to mobile when researching and discussing vehicles—especially when they’re about to make a decision. Make a good impression on them by offering clear, compelling information on your mobile website or app and showcasing relevant cars and deals on mobile-first platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.


  • Pave the way for Millennials and women

Help Millennials and women gain expertise by sharing customized educational content, such as car-buying tips, guides and how-to’s. You might also consider reassuring younger shoppers they’re making the right choice by citing third-party reviews and encouraging pressure-free test drives.


  • Rev up your ad relevance

Car shoppers come with distinct needs. Explore the Facebook Audience Insights tool to learn more about your customers and create content tailored to their preferences. Next, tune up your demographic targeting on Facebook and Instagram.


: Facebook IQ