The effects of Coronavirus on the motor industry

As the motor industry starts to close its doors, we take a look at how a retailer can stay in touch with buyers through the medium of good digital marketing

Since the first announcement of the outbreak by the government back on 11th March, it’s fair to say things have escalated quickly. We now find ourselves in an enforced lockdown in the UK with confusion, uncertainty and worry all playing on our minds. 

This is a global pandemic and has affected almost every part of our economy. The motor industry has been hit hard with many dealers closing their showroom doors; either proactively or forcibly through lack of staff. Now is the time to stick together, develop our reserves, and prepare to come out the other side stronger; both as an industry and as individual businesses.

We have done a lot of research over the last few days speaking with many people across the industry to get their thoughts, feelings and predictions on this pandemic. In this paper we will look at market trends, consumer confidences, buying habits and brand reactions. 

What’s happening in the market?

Early signs at Carsnip show that the market has taken a sharp downturn (at least for now) with the short term volume of traffic and vehicle search down last week on previous month. But it isn’t all doom and gloom! We are still seeing a consistent conversion metric across all our dealer sites, as supported by Toomey Motor Group and their recent comments from Marketing Manager Henry Howel

For the past 6 months Carsnip has been tracking search volumes, impressions, and buyer behaviour with our monthly issue of Mind The Gap; and it will be interesting to watch the trend lines over the next few months to see how behaviour is affected as the pandemic continues to affect our everyday lives. 

First and foremost we believe that personal safety, of both yourself and your teams and families should be at the top of everyone’s agenda. We encourage businesses to adhere to government guidelines but this still gives you a huge opportunity to sell cars and continue doing business even though you aren’t physically at your dealerships.

 The personal safety of yourself, your teams and families should be at the top of everyone’s agenda.

Global Influences

China was obviously the first country to be hit by this awful virus, and thankfully they are showing signs of improvement with little to no new cases being reported in the last week.  We can look at what happened there as an indication to what we should expect here.

After the initial outbreak in China they saw a massive drop off in all activity however digital interaction between customers and dealers increased very quickly shortly after the peak. Due to this, companies ramped up their staffing levels to accommodate the increase in digital activity, and to handle the increased volume of leads that came from previously dormant consumers.

 The current market conditions are similar to what happens over a Christmas festive break, we have had Christmas when everyone is at home, and when Christmas is over and people start returning to work, people start heading online to get ready for their new vehicle purchase.   

What support is currently available for Businesses?

Like or dislike Boris Johnson, he is supporting businesses and individuals alike during these unprecedented times. We feel a very strong vibe from him that his utmost priority is to ensure we get through this as a country as best we can. 

If you are operating a business and are struggling during these tough times, you may wish to look at these support facilities set up by the government during the last few weeks. 

  • 12 months business rate holiday (England only)
  • Grants for businesses with rateable value up to £51,000
  • Statutory Sick Pay support for SME’s
  • Furloughed staff to receive 80% wage contribution up to £2500 per month 
  • Delayed VAT payments for 3 months 
  • Business interruption scheme for businesses up to £45 million turnover

We’d recommend visiting the government site here to research any of the schemes that may be of benefit to you during this difficult time. 

Time to think BIG!

It’s very easy when we are working from home to keep reaching for the crisps and biscuits. I’m sure you have seen the internet going mad with YouTube live streams of people doing PE lessons, Yoga classes, Exercise videos etc. These are all great ideas to get people off their bottoms and to keep people active, we salute you!

There’s also a lot of benefits to the individuals and businesses doing these things too; it creates great brand awareness, makes people talk to friends, family and share on social media, and many more. These businesses have thought outside the box and created great marketing campaigns for themselves.

The importance of staying in touch with your customers and in the forefront of their minds has never been so important – now is the time to think of new and innovative ways to reach your audience that doesn’t just include a walk around video of the latest model.

Change in Customers buying behaviour

People are still searching for your cars online! Carsnip’s total advert impressions is still over 1 million, and we are still connecting buyers to their perfect car every day. Carsnip has also seen an increase in the number of consumers who set up car alerts, saving vehicles and search filters for another day, which all suggests some are ready to buy now but most are getting ready to buy when this all blows over. There is value in having your brand out there to be discovered! 

 Carsnip has also seen an increase in the number of consumers who set up car alerts, saving vehicles and search filters

This is all positive buying signals, and your brand needs to be up there with the people who are still in that buying cycle. If they can’t walk into your showroom, and they can’t find your stock at online search engines, they will buy elsewhere! 

Understandably, there has been a drop off in mobile searches and an increase in desktop searches, this would make sense as the commute is for the time being no longer a thing and people have access more often to their computers.


Whilst the news is all very negative at the moment, and there are a large number of unknowns still at play, we see no reason not to be quietly positive, looking to the future of your business, and making the most of your time to improve and develop your infrastructure to give you a sustainable competitive advantage. 

Check out our page containing some of the most asked questions and concerns at this time for dealers, as we try to dispel some of the myths and support you to keep a close eye on your business.

About Carsnip
Carsnip is the UK’s largest used car search engine, with over 500,000 dealer sold used cars across the UK. We operate a natural language search engine, to help you find your perfect used car, and narrow down the choice by what’s most important to you.

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