Are We Always Passively Shopping for Cars?


Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re always shopping for a new car.

You can be casually scrolling through Facebook, thinking only of cat videos and the most recent “Game of Thrones” episode, when a post from a car dealer goes by featuring a shiny new Ford Explorer. You might wonder, even for a moment, if the new rig would make for a good replacement for your aging Honda Pilot.

Or maybe that first glimmer of desire for a different car appears when a friend posts photos of his or her new GMC Acadia.

Whatever the source of inspiration, you might start wondering if you should consider buying a car. At the very least, you’ll start thinking about the type of car you’ll want when the time comes to make a purchase.

Perhaps you’ll click on the dealer’s link out of curiosity, or even (innocently) begin a search inspired by your friend’s new car.

Even though you didn’t think you were in the market, a different car suddenly becomes a very real possibility. This is called “passive shopping,” and a new study suggests that social media has created an environment in which we’re doing it all the time.

Libby Murad-Patel, vice president of strategic insights and analytics for Jumpstart, an automotive marketing and advertising company, said,

Word of mouth has always been important. But the format that it’s in now has changed. Part of social media and its influence, they’ve made the consideration window an ongoing thing. We talk in this study about how people are always passively shopping. They’re always collecting information. That’s a little bit of a change. People who are in market are already coming in with a pretty good idea about the vehicles that are top of mind or a few brands that are top of mind. That’s because they’re constantly gathering.

That means you might quickly dismiss a friend’s post about a new Honda Civic because you have no interest in a small sedan, but you might still find your curiosity piqued by that new Acadia. The more that happens, the more you subconsciously create a checklist of things you want out of a new car. Then, when that dealer ad pops up and shows a picture of the car that matches your list, you’ll be mentally prepared to take action.

To make sure you’re also financially prepared, be sure to check the value of any vehicle you’re interested in purchasing, in addition to the potential trade-in value of your current car. You can do all of that with the CarGurus Instant Market Value tool.

Whether you know you’re doing it or not, happy shopping!

How often does new-car shopping cross your mind?


Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Used Ford Explorer
Used Honda Pilot
Used GMC Acadia
Used Honda Civic

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