New research from Ocean’s consumer panel, @TheLocal*, has uncovered new attitude and behavioural insights that suggests the automotive industry is starting to experience signs of recovery and normalisation, with 15% of respondents signalling they are planning on purchasing a new car in 2021.

Covid-19 has impacted just about every market, but with every threat comes opportunity and the motors industry – as challenged as any other – is seeing encouraging signs with newly emerging positive consumer sentiment and buying trends.

How we travel has changed
The pandemic has impacted how we travel: 60% of Locals say they still need to commute to work and get around, with 38% of commuters doing exclusively so via car and 21% of consumers saying they rely on their car more than ever. 4x more consumers also now rely on personal transport over public transport.

In the market for a new motor
These prevailing new attitudes and behaviours have subsequently created heightened considerations around buying a car. According to @TheLocal research, 15% are definitely planning on purchasing a car this year, or seriously considering it – only 3% less than the annual average 18% for the UK – and this increases to 1 in 5 among 18-34s and ABC1s.

This, coupled with a more buoyant public outlook termed the ‘vaccine confidence’ effect, all suggests that despite a challenging 2020 for the motors market, we are now starting to see recovery and normalisation.

A willingness to spend
And in more good news for the automotive industry, it turns out consumers are not afraid to splash the cash when it comes to expense: 69% of @TheLocal residents say they are willing to spend just as much as usual or even more on big ticket items such as cars. This increases to a huge 74% for those aged between 25-34.

When comparing this information against YouGov’s pre-Covid-19 spends, this suggests a 5x increase in the number of consumers spending over £20,000 on their car compared to before. This all signifies that those who are buying cars this year are willing to invest and spend more than usual in line with their new travelling behaviours.

And some Britons’ have even deeper pockets still: We found that 11% of those aged 55+ and 13% of those most exposed to DOOH will spend over a whopping £50,000.

Younger audiences go green
Finally, with the UK pledging to ban the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030, electric and hybrid cars are having a moment, especially with younger audiences.

@TheLocal research found that those aged 18-34 are 52% more likely than any other age group to purchase electric cars. This is probably due to the fact that they are most likely to be purchasing their first cars and are more open to alternative fuel types.

This is backed up by recent news from SMMT which found that 2020 was the best year ever for electric cars, with the battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles market share up by 10.7%.

*In field 5th January to 11th January 2021, based on a nationally representative sample.