Car Buying Trends and Consumer Personas

Thérèse Mulvey

Analytics, Monthly Survey, Consumer Trends

December 11, 2023

Buying a vehicle is likely to be the second most expensive purchase for many consumers. Combined with high interest rates, haggling with a salesperson and confusion about available vehicle choices, purchasing a car is often a stressful, frustrating experience for shoppers.

Marketers can get a turbo boost in car sales by understanding consumer personas. Built on our consumer data analytics, predictive and prescriptive modeling, we identified four vehicle buying personas:

1. Conscious Consumer - These car buyers need a new vehicle but they’re willing to wait to get exactly what they want. These discerning buyers have done their research, compared different makes, visited review sites and created a list of pros and cons. Marketers will be more persuasive by spotlighting the vehicle as a status symbol and reflection of the buyer’s personality.

2. Impulse Buyer – For this buyer, the vehicle is a bit of an extravagance. They want the bells and whistles, but they’re willing to change their preferred color choice and walk away from some wish list features in order to drive away with a vehicle. Tap into the shopper’s emotion and how the buyer will feel driving the vehicle.

3. Need It Now – This is the largest group of car buyers in the U.S. (28%). They’ve driven into the dealership with a car that’s barely holding it together and are determined to drive out with a vehicle that is in good working condition. Interestingly, this buyer is more like to be female, more likely to be lower income with lower education, and more likely to be 50 to 69 years old. They’re not as interested in a flashy car and simply need a vehicle to get from Point A to Point B. This buyer is price-conscious and a lower monthly payment or a warranty will be major factors in the final purchase decision.

4. Just For Me – For this buyer, the car isn't extravagant, but they're willing to wait. This is the youngest consumer group, much more likely to be a well-educated millennial with an income of $100,000+. For a millennial, it’s likely that this vehicle is the first major purchase they're going to make independently. Therefore, they want the purchase to be special and exactly to their specifications. Although they're willing to wait, you have to keep this consumer engaged because they’re making a purchase based on excitement. Marketers will need to communicate with this buyer throughout the purchase process, reinforcing the vehicle value and how the car matches their personality.

We also support marketing strategies with insights from Causeway Solutions’ Monthly Surveys of U.S. Adults 18+.

Consumers who plan to purchase a vehicle also subscribe to streaming services and are more likely than the average person to subscribe to all of them.

The biggest difference is Netflix subscriptions where the majority of car buyers (66%) are subscribers compared to 46% of the general population.

Streaming Service Subscribers ---------General Population-------- Car Buyers
Netflix 46% 66%
Hulu 34% 48%
Amazon Prime 51% 63%
Max 23% 32%
Disney+ 31% 49%

*Source: Causeway Solutions September 2023

Car buyers took vacations at a higher rate: 71% of car buyers took vacations while only 58% of the general population did.

  • Car Buyers: 71% (60% of those vacations were weekend trips)
  • General Population: 58% (48% of those vacations were multi-day vacations in the U.S.)

*Source: Causeway Solutions September 2023

As marketers face an increasingly competitive marketplace, we offer Acquisition Analytics to help you with smarter segmentation. Reach out to us to support you by sending the right message to the right people at the right time.

*About Causeway Solutions’ Monthly Surveys

Causeway Solutions has conducted a monthly online survey of U.S. Adults 18+ for more than 3 years. The data offers snapshots into consumer attitudes and behaviors, which support industry trends. Insights include optimism about the economy, plan to purchase and media usage. Causeway Solutions offers key industry profiles, including healthcare, entertainment, sports, travel, restaurants and more. The most recent survey was conducted September 9-13, 2023, with 838 Adults 18+ completing the online questionnaire.

Thérèse Mulvey is Vice President of Strategy & Insight at Causeway Solutions, a leading provider of Acquisition Analytics and innovative data services. Thérèse has worked in media, including television, newspaper, direct mail and digital, where she successfully translated consumer data into insights that address key business issues. She has over two decades of success driving profit, growth and market expansion through the strategic optimization of marketing analytics, research and business development. Causeway Solutions empowers clients to make smart, timely, data-driven decisions through real-time consumer insights to better reach target audiences. Learn more at

To learn more, visit Causeway Solutions to get started!