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5 Key Takeaways​ From TEGNA’s Research Study, Unlocking the Car Buyer of Today 

At TEGNA, we’ve partnered with Provoke Insights to bring you Unlocking the Car Buyer of Today, a 2022 TEGNA Research Study, which profiles today’s automotive consumer sentiment and intent toward the car-buying experience. With our findings, we aim to help dealerships better understand today’s car owners and buyers and better equip them with new insights to capture the hearts and minds of this audience. Here are our 5 key takeaways.  

Meredith Cunningham Published: September 1, 2022
5 Key Takeaways​ From TEGNA’s Research Study, <i>Unlocking the Car Buyer of Today</i>  image

By Andrew Nieves, Senior Consumer Insights Strategist, TEGNA 

What can I say? This was a labor of love for us on Team TEGNA. It all started when an auto advertising partner said, “tell me something that I don’t know.”  

As a trusted business partner and consultant, it was clear that we needed research to help our automotive partners keep their engines running, especially amid such a tumultuous automotive market, the gas crisis, the chip shortage, and more.  

That’s why we partnered with Provoke Insights in March 2022 to develop TEGNA’s first-ever Research Study: Unlocking the Car Buyer of Today.  

Acting as a partner and consultant to our automotive clients, this study aims to help auto dealerships know and understand what’s happening in the industry, specifically from the consumer side of things. Our ultimate goal is to better equip dealerships with new insights to capture the hearts and minds of this audience – and ultimately sell more cars.  


We surveyed a thousand respondents across the country, and all participants either currently own/lease a vehicle or plan to purchase one within the next year. With that, we broke it down into three distinct groups. We looked at all respondents, people that currently own/lease a vehicle, and those that plan to purchase in the next two years.  

When we often look at the sales cycle and try to get people in the dealership doors, two years is that nice little sweet spot, making this an actionable audience.  

Key Takeaways 

If you ever cheated on a book report (not me, of course), this is the best part. Our Key Takeaways are like the TLDR version or Cliff Notes of the study. Of course, the study is full of great insights and data points, and as a self-proclaimed data nerd, I can easily get lost in data for days, but here are our big findings:  

1. Consumer Demand for Vehicles Remains Strong​ 

When we look at the automotive industry, there’s a lot of noise around inventory issues, chip shortages, and the car buying landscape in general. As an auto dealer facing all these challenges, you might ask, “are people really wanting to buy?”  

The answer is yes, they are ready to buy today. 

2. Online Purchasing is Growing & Changing Consumer Expectations​

One of the things that we see in a lot of studies is that online purchasing is growing and changing consumer expectations. I think back to the beginning of the pandemic. Many dealers had to adapt and adopt online services to be there for consumers who couldn’t necessarily go in person and do business at the dealership.  

3. In-person Visits to a Dealership Reign Supreme

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that visits to the dealership have become obsolete.  

While a growing number of consumers are researching online before they buy, our research has found that nothing beats a visit to the dealership. ​The touch, the feel factor, and test drives contribute to the full experience of buying a car. Many people still find dealership visits to be the most influential factor in buying a car.  

4. Consumers Have Lingering Concerns That Need to be Addressed​

The idea of price gouging, consumer budgets, and inventory shortages are all concerns and critical issues that impact the buying process and consumers’ satisfaction with the dealership. Dealers must address this head-on in their messaging to provide reassurance to auto-intenders.  

 5. Car Buyers Prefer TV for Dealership Advertising​

Lastly, we asked panelists, “how do you want to be engaged with dealers regarding their advertising?” Overall, 46% said they are most receptive to television – which makes sense. TV is a completely visual medium, and seeing the car and its features is part of the car-buying experience.  TV can show off the wow factor and really get people into a dealership’s doors. Video is able to effectively tell the right story, which can really help fuel sales and foster more strategic conversations with auto-intenders.  

Final Thoughts 

At the end of the day, on Team TEGNA, we know the power of video, and we know it better than anyone else. It’s our bread and butter. When it comes to being a consultant to our clients, we’ve got a lot of great information in Unlocking the Car Buyer of Today that allows us to really have consultative, engaging, and valuable conversations to create conversions. So when our partners say, “tell me something I didn’t know,” we have them covered.  

I highly recommend sinking your teeth into the full study, which you can download here. One of our automotive clients has already used these insights to tweak and strengthen the messaging in its TV commercials, and it already seeing a 40% increase in sales, year-over-year.  

It just goes to show that when you work with TEGNA, you’re in good company.  

Sound Good?  

If you’re looking to learn more about the attitudes and behaviors of today’s auto-intenders, click here to download Unlocking The Car Buyer of Today. To learn more about our TV advertising packages and online advertising solutions for car dealerships, contact our team today.

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