How Long Are They In-Market?

Kevin Root |

            How Long Are They In-Market?

It Depends on What They Are Buying

When looking at how much time a buyer spends shopping for a car, it’s heavily tied to what kind of car they’re shopping for. Buyers considering a certified pre-owned (CPO) car shop differently than buyers looking for a used car, who shop differently than buyers shopping for new cars. In a new study from, they’ve explored some of the differences in how each kind of buyer shops.

Do they know what they want?

New car shoppers are the most likely to already know what they want to buy and, possibly, even know where they want to buy from: 41% indicated that they either knew what make and model they wanted to buy and the dealership they wanted to buy from—or that they at least knew what kind of car they wanted.

CPO vehicle buyers also tended to know what they are looking for, with 36% knowing just what they wanted to buy and where they wanted to buy it. Used car buyers are a little more evenly distributed along the spectrum, and only 31% of these individuals knew what they wanted and, in some cases, where they wanted to buy it.

How close are they to buying?

Statistically, the shoppers surveyed clustered around one month as a buying timeframe, but CPO and used buyers were more motivated to make a purchase sometime soon. Almost half of CPO buyers wanted to buy within the next week or month, as did almost half of used buyers.

New car buyers aren’t so anxious, and only about 41% of them indicated that they’d be ready to buy within the next week or month. Twenty-seven percent of new car buyers wanted to buy within the next three months, and almost 35% indicated they had a four-plus month timeframe.

How long do they take to buy?

When you look at how long it takes new, CPO, and used buyers to purchase a vehicle, you see that new buyers take the longest, at 48.5 days on average, followed by CPO buyers, at 47.34 days, and then used buyers averaging 46.86 days. This makes sense when you take into account that a new car buyer is likely looking for a vehicle that’s exactly what they want, while CPO buyers are slightly more willing to bend on some of their requirements, and used car buyers are less picky (or possibly more price-focused).

So what does it all mean?

Taken together, what does all of this tell us about different kinds of buyers? We know that new car buyers may take a little more time to actually make their purchase, but that they are more likely to have done their research and made their decision. Buyers looking at new cars are looking for exactly what they want and tend to be the most inflexible.

On the other hand, CPO buyers are closer to purchasing, but may need to do more research before they decide exactly what to purchase or where to purchase. Used car buyers are not far behind CPO buyers in the sales funnel but, like CPO buyers, they likely still have some research to do and some decisions to make.

CPO and used car buyers are the customers where salespeople have the opportunity to make the most difference. These shoppers don’t always know what they want, but they’re highly motivated and ready to purchase. A highly trained sales force can help a dealership provide these buyers with a efficient sales experience.