Thursday, January 25, 2018

Consumers & Their Never-Ending Research Process

As much as we would like to think buyers wake up one day, decide they want to buy a new bike, and walk into a dealership to do it - we know that’s not really how it works. Buyers think for months about what they want in their next ride. They compare features, model years, and dealerships to find their next obsession. And sometimes, they look even if they aren’t really planning to buy - just because they want to see if that irresistible bike happens to be on the market. So we can keep set realistic expectations - we asked buyers directly about their research process.

To start - we went high-level - asking overall how long they research before they buy. The vast
majority said they look for their next unit for over a month before diving in - and 22% said they spend more than a year looking - which is impressive, but not necessarily surprising. Bike buyers aren’t easy going about what they want and are brand loyal to a fault - so they are willing to wait it out if they need to .

But these are buyers are the majority - the ones who say they are openly looking to buy - what about those riders who just like to look at bikes for the fun of it? So we asked. Turns out 83% of them are checking out listings regularly, even if they aren’t in the market at the moment. They just like to look at what’s out there. Dream about what could be. But what happens when they run across that one bike they can’t live without? 89% said they would buy it. So these are people who aren’t looking to buy right now - but said they would buy if the right bike came along. That’s huge. In my mind - this statistic alone is why you should always have your inventory online - winter, spring, summer, or fall. It doesn’t matter. These buyers are more than happy to take their best laid plans and throw them out the window.

And because we hear from dealers all the time that believe buyers are only looking for bikes in the spring and summer - we decided to make that our last question for buyers. And, as we thought - only 12% said they exclusively search in the spring and summer months. The other 88% are searching throughout the year. That’s right - all year long. So - by keeping your listings up throughout the year - you never know who you are going to attract. And, because not all dealers believe that buyers continue searching in the “off season”, you might even have slightly less competition.

While it would be ideal for us if consumers didn’t feel the need to spend months and months researching - that's just not the reality - so if you can’t beat them, join them. Make your listings irresistible - so it fuels their passion and makes them have to have that new bike. Show them something they can’t resist.
Trader Online Web Developer

How Consumers Search & What They're Searching For

We know motorcycle buyers can be brand loyal -- with 27% saying manufacturer is the most important thing to them when searching for their next ride. I didn’t fully believe it until I was at an event where we were giving away a free Yamaha dirt bike - and someone decided not to enter because they only ride Suzuki. That’s serious dedication.

But is that dedication reflected in their search habits? Yes. And are they searching any other way? Yes. We took a look at search habits for buyers on Cycle Trader from 2017 to give us a better understanding of what they’re up to.

Starting out the most popular - manufacturer - in 2017, our top five most searched manufacturers were:

Harley-Davidson - 20%
Honda - 15%
Yamaha - 9%
Kawasaki - 7%
Suzuki - 6%

Harley’s been a powerhouse in the industry for a long time - and riders, both new and old, like to check out what’s on the market from them. But Honda’s continues to keep a fairly close pace behind them. Another interesting thing to note is that 12% of buyers chose not to search by manufacturer. So that could account for new buyers in the industry who aren’t sure what they want to ride yet, someone looking to switch types, or just sheer curiosity as to what else is in the market.

Some buyers choose to take it even more detailed than just manufacturer and choose to search by model. Now - this is a smaller group, so the percentages are much smaller - but these are the loyal of the loyal. They not only know what manufacturer they want to ride, but what bike specifically. Harley still holds the top spot - with Honda and Kawasaki not far behind.

Street Glide - 1.5%
Road King - 1%
Gold Wing - 1%
Road Glide - .9%
Ninja - .8%

Even fewer riders - but still some - choose to narrow their options by type. These riders are looking more generally, rather than focusing on a specific bike make or model. This could be new riders who aren’t yet brand loyal, riders entering a different stage of their riding life, or maybe they’re just looking for a new type of bike to add to their collection. Trikes and dirt bikes lead the pack for this type of search behavior - not surprising, since they are more of a speciality.

Trike - 2.6%
Dirt Bike - 2.6%
Sportbike - 2.1%
Cruiser - 1.8%

These buyers know what they want - and their search habits reflect that. They can be loyal to a fault - but that knowledge just gives you the ammo to fuel their obsession.
Trader Online Web Developer