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.

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Will GM Finally Change the Car Buying Process?

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I’ve been a longtime proponent of changing the way cars are sold. The dealer system has worked for many years, but I’d love to see manufacturers sell directly to consumers online.

Tesla is dealing with this issue right now, as it tries to build new company-owned stores across the United States and experiences pushback from traditional dealers in the form of lawsuits. That’s unfortunate, but sometimes old ways are hard to change.

That’s why I was more than a little surprised to read that General Motors, a stalwart in the old ways of doing things, has come up with a plan to begin the process of selling vehicles online.

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