top 3 offlineWould you rather provide award-winning customer service at your dealership or be recognized for having an award-winning television commercial? Which would help sell more cars?

Not to be discounted by larger shifts towards digital research, offline information still plays an important role in the car shopping process. However, the offline marketing tactics dealerships frequently employ (e.g., TV, radio, outdoor and print ads) don’t always align with consumer needs. The average dealership dedicates more than 50 percent of its marketing budget to traditional media, yet consumers show that they prefer to gather information and make decisions through other channels.

A recent study conducted by C+R Research, shows that offline experiences, not offline advertisements, are most effective in influencing car shoppers. According to the research, all three of the top offline sources of influence are experience based.

  • Talking to friends and family
  • Visiting a dealership
  • Noticing a vehicle on the street

For such a large purchase, it is only natural for shoppers to want to see, touch and experience what they’re buying prior to making a decision. So while recent industry studies show that shoppers today may make fewer dealer visits than they used to, the dealer visit itself is still a critical moment on the path to purchase, and shoppers are very much open to influence.

The fact that traditional advertising does not rank among the top offline sources is indicative of shoppers’ desire for control over the information they receive during the shopping process, something that offline advertising does not afford.

View the full study here.