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Maslow's hierarchy of needs.Image via WikipediaUsed car shoppers all agree that doing your research online is a must. Dealer websites, photos, videos, mileage figures, reviews, CARFAX history reports…they will seek all the major resources. Even turning to friends, family and even the guy down the hall at work who claims to know everything.

The major difference between all shoppers is how this information is processed and actually absorbed. Many buyers will tell you what they want and how much research they did. But did they?

Most car buyers eventually buy something that is closer to what they want rather than what they need. I’ve done it. I blame it on Maslow.

Shoppers need to use the resources available to make the best choice rather than just taking the easy route and selecting the familiar choices. I see a striking similarity in the the choices automotive shoppers make and the decisions voters make. And those choices tend to be based on comfort versus the decision that actually shares their current needs and situation.

Rational Buyers:

These are your car geeks. They know everything about the vehicle. Cubic square inches of the engine, drag coefficients and the entire family history of the founder of the company. Their knowledge overtakes their ability to clearly decide when comparing models side by side. Just like voting, they revert to a confused state and may even make the wrong choice.

Passive Buyers:

These buyers don’t pay attention to a specific model or even their specs - aside from price. Their decisions are based more on what they remember from an emotional commercial, a memorable event from their youth or even the overbearing influence from an older Rational Buyer. Again, like voters, very little consideration is given to the alternatives. These are the buyers OEM’s love; they like to call it brand loyalty. I call it lazy and close-minded

Frugal Buyers:

The Frugal consumer concentrates on one specific item they have justified as the most important item and becomes passionate about that fact. Any additional logical information that could influence their decision is disregarded as false, stupid or even as a conspiracy theory. These are emotional people. Rational thoughts are not an option as these buyers are operating on their own agenda. If the frugal buyer’s hot button is purchasing the vehicle with highest safety rating, any other piece of information will be met with resistance. I also recommend not discussing anything about religion, politics or popular culture as it will not end peacefully.

Intuitive Buyers:

These are pleasant buyers who did what they consider to be sufficient enough research. They could sound like a Wikipedia page, but share only enough to appear as if they are being humble about their “knowledge.” Their effort behind the actual research is minimal; they aren’t overly committed to one particular brand - often flip-flopping and not paying attention to all of the information. They may be interested in the safety endorsement from the NHSTB. Or just the economy ratings from FuelEconomy.gov. Once the key information is found, their decision is made based on the perceived endorsement from that group.

What kind of used car buyer are you?

[I’m the 1st one.]

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