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What’s taking buyers so long?


Obviously, we would all like buyers to move down the path to purchase as quickly as possible. The faster they do, the faster you can make a sale. But according to a Cycle Trader Survey, 78 percent of buyers say they will research for more than a month before making a purchase decision — and that includes the 22 percent who plan to take more than a year to find their next ride. A year? Let’s just call a spade a spade — that’s a long time. Why are these buyers taking so long to make a purchase decision? We know they’re brand loyal — with 27 percent saying that the manufacturer is what their search — so why can’t they just walk in and buy?

Well, it’s two fold really: The path to purchase has changed, and we are dealing with a passionate buyer base.

So why has the path to purchase changed? It used to be that buyers revealed themselves to dealers much earlier in the buying process. They relied on dealerships for all their research — so they came in to the shop as soon as they started thinking about buying. Nowadays, buyers can get a lot of information online — so that’s where they start and they don’t come into the dealership until much further down the sales funnel. They are spending more and more time in the research phase — with only about a third of buyers searching saying they are actively ready to buy. The others are spending time checking out what they can get for their money and what’s currently available in the market, while comparing features, model years, and dealerships for their next ride.

One upside of this longer research phase is that when buyers do finally contact a dealership, they are ready. They reach out because you have something they want and they want to buy it right now, which is why according to the survey, 65 percent expect to hear back from a dealer they’ve contacted that same business day and once you contact them, and 71 percent expect to have the keys within a week. Yep, they are seriously motivated.

Another thing to keep in mind with these buyers is that the vast majority aren’t making this purchase because they have to, they’re making it because they want to. They are passionate about riding, which also changes the way that they search, for a couple of reasons. First, there’s probably not an exact timeline on their purchase. It’s not like a house where maybe a lease is running out and they have to move by a certain date to accommodate that. They can take their time — and obviously, they do. A couple of interesting statistics from the survey that support this:

  • 88 percent of buyers don’t just search for bikes in the spring and summer.
  • 83 percent of buyers continue to browse even if they aren’t planning to buy, but 89 percent said they would go ahead and purchase if they found the bike they’re looking for.

And here’s why those particular statistics matter. It shows how passionate these buyers are about the lifestyle. They are invested in our industry and spend time browsing listings just for fun — even if it’s cold or they aren’t really planning to buy anything. These customers are the ultimate ghost customers because even they don’t know when they plan to make a purchase. If the timings right, they’re all about it – if not, they’re also happy to keep waiting.

The changes in the path to purchase and these staggering statistics straight from the mouth of consumers, show why it’s important to be proactive with your digital marketing efforts. These buyers are taking longer to make a decision, but they are constantly looking and when they find what they want, they are ready to buy — even if they weren’t originally planning on it.

Kensey Edwards is the content manager for Cycle Trader, an online marketplace connecting powersports buyers to sellers. In her role, Edwards focuses on consumer research and trends in the ever-changing digital landscape — and translates those insights into content and education to help dealers compete in the broader powersports industry.

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