Has the demand for purchasing vehicles from offline vs. online channels changed since 2022?
September 11th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Has the demand for purchasing vehicles from offline vs. online channels changed since 2022?

With more and more consumers moving to digital buying channels, the role of brick-and-mortar stores has become less prominent but cannot be ignored. The IRL-shopping experience – and demand for it – differs between sectors.

A recent YouGov Surveys: Serviced poll of 18 international markets shines a light on consumers' offline buying preferences across different product categories in 2023 – especially in the case of vehicles - in comparison to their preferences in 2022.

Traditional offline shopping continues to be more popular than online shopping across many product and service categories, much like it was in 2022. Groceries (64% in 2023), clothes (54% in 2023) and vehicles (53% in 2023) remain the top three product categories where the market average of our polled consumers say they would prefer to buy from a physical establishment rather than online. This stems, possibly, from the lack of uniformity among products within these categories making it more beneficial for people to physically observe and compare products before committing to a purchase.

On the other hand, however, with less than a fifth saying that they would prefer to buy these products and services from a physical store, consumers are far more likely to shop online for insurance (18% in 2022 and 2023), travel services (14% in 2022 vs. 15% in 2023) and video games (10% in 2022 and 2023).

Taking a closer look at the data for the automotive sector reveals that the demand for buying vehicles in-person is almost the same in June 2023 (54%) as it was in July 2022 (52%) among the market average. However, a look at the data by individual market reveals some interesting differences.

Our respondents across North American markets are only slightly likelier to choose physical establishments over online portals the next time they’re in the market for a vehicle in 2023 than in 2022 – Canada (63% in 2023 vs. 62% in 2022), US (60% in 2023 vs. 58% in 2022), and Mexico (44% in 2023 vs. 42% in 2022).

However, consumers across APAC markets share notably scattered views. The demand for buying automobiles through physical channels appears to have fallen among consumers in Australia (from 62% in 2022 to 59% in 2023) and Indonesia (from 49% in 2022 to 45% in 2023). On the other hand, consumers in India, Singapore and Hong Kong are significantly likelier to opt to buy their vehicles from physical showrooms instead of online portals in 2023 (52%, 48% and 39% respectively) than in 2022 (47%, 39% and 33% respectively).

Similarly, more than two-fifths of consumers in the UAE say they’d prefer to purchase a vehicle from offline rather than online in 2023 (42%) compared to 37% who said the same in 2022.

Coming to the European markets, the preferences of consumers in Sweden and Great Britain have not changed at all, and they are as likely to choose to purchase cars offline in 2023 as they were in 2022. While the demand for offline purchases of vehicles has increased significantly among consumers in Spain (from 53% in 2022 to 57% in 2023), it has decreased significantly among consumers in Poland (from 52% in 2022 to 48% in 2023) and Germany (from 49% in 2022 to 45% in 2023). 

While the data for markets like Australia, Poland, Germany and Indonesia indicates a growing adoption of online channels for the purchase of vehicles, physical establishments like dealerships and showrooms still hold sway over consumers in most other polled countries where the convenience of online shopping is yet to make its mark on car buyers.

Explore our living data – for free

Discover more Automotive content here

Want to run your own research? Run a survey now

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 20 million+ members. Speak with us today

Try a subscription-free data snapshot of your brand performance, sector trends or audience profile, with a one-time deep dive into YouGov's flagship consumer intelligence and brand tracking products. Get your tailor-made snapshot here

Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 437 and 2,045 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in June 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.