Dealer Trends

Auto Dealership Industry Trends to Watch in 2022

The Pandemic and inventory shortages continue to make their presence known, with dealerships having to adapt at a rapid pace. The process of buying and selling cars has drastically evolved from what it was only a few years ago. In these fast-paced times, here are some auto dealership trends to watch out for in 2022.

A Digital Focus

While relying on print and television marketing would have sufficed a decade ago, that is no longer the case. The internet continues to gain prevalence throughout society worldwide. Many people are turning away from cable, and the average American hasn't touched a newspaper in years. People are instead glued to their computers and smartphones in today's world. This has left internet marketing as the priority target for leads and engagement.

In 2016, it was found that 88 percent of car shoppers used the internet for vehicle shopping. That number will continue to grow as time goes on. It's no wonder that online marketing is now accounting for over half of advertising spending.

The gap will continue to grow as forecasts predict that by 2023, internet advertising will account for over 60% of advertisers' budgets. The automotive industry is explicitly ahead of the curve, hitting 60% in 2020.

Hyper-Targeted Marketing

While a shift away from the usual marketing avenues may be troublesome, internet advertising is a lot more flexible in driving engagement. Anyone browsing the internet or engaging with messaging leaves a digital footprint that auto dealership marketers can leverage. Those seeking increased sales will have an unprecedented amount of options regarding the ad content and who they are served to.

Marketing managers can target specific keywords, demographics, locations, and interests. From there, they can narrow down their ads for more personalization and better engagement. It will be essential to take a more active approach to ad management with all these options. While a generalized ad that targets a broad geographic audience can work, it will be far from optimal and a waste of funds.

To take full advantage of internet marketing, many may turn to tools such as Activator. The all-in-one software package looks to provide a streamlined solution to the internet and multi-channel marketing. While it simplifies the process, it still uses a wide selection of data points to provide personalized engagement opportunities for customers.

Home Services

The Pandemic has forced a transition throughout almost every industry. Social distancing and at-home services have become commonplace and will continue to grow into the future. As with internet marketing, dealerships will have to transition if they wish to stay relevant. Throughout history, auto dealerships are often scrutinized.

As such, customers will take every opportunity to simplify the car buying process. Practices such as digital retail and at-home deliveries work to improve customer relations. They also play a part in cutting down the overall car buying process time, allowing for more customers to be serviced by the dealership.

On the service side, mobile mechanics are increasing in popularity. Some dealerships now offer mobile service along with vehicle pickup and delivery options. Whichever is the case, it's a convenience that will not go unnoticed by new-vehicle owners. There will undoubtedly be customers that prefer doing things the same way as before. When it comes down to it, it's just essential to give the customers options to increase sales.


Going hand and hand with the "internetification" of the car buying process is the electrification of automobiles as a whole. Mass-produced EVs introduced into the world nearly a decade ago. Since then, rapid improvements have made these cars suitable for most daily drivers. With better performance and less maintenance, electric vehicles are a viable next step in the evolution of automobiles. In recent years, almost every automaker has jumped on the train. First-generation electric cars are already on the road with commitments to push forward with more options. Virtually every automotive brand has released an aggressive five or ten-year plan with set production goals.

As such, the way dealers operate will have to change as well. Dealerships must cater to new tech-savvy customers and add to their sales training. With emerging technologies such as electric cars, many buyers will be unsure of their purchase decision. It becomes imperative that salespersons now become more knowledgeable than ever. Additionally, with electric vehicles requiring minimal maintenance, dealerships must rethink their service departments and income streams. Although it will be many years before electric vehicles make up the majority of cars on the road, the shift is happening faster than expected.

Low Inventory & Higher Prices

The global supply chain has seen considerable difficulties. Regardless of industry, production output is not meeting demand. Returning to a steady supply stream seems further away with continuously growing backlogs of orders. For the time being, we will continue to see these difficulties for the foreseeable future.

As such, the average dealer lot will no longer have as many vehicles as before. Walking customers through different options and colors will become more difficult as a representative model won't always be available. Many customers will not get their first choice, so it will be necessary for salespeople to be engaging and provide the best alternative.

Customers who opt against compromise will turn towards pre-orders and long wait times. Additionally, these supply constraints and lower sales volume will continue to limit incentivizing factors. For most new models, buying a car at the MSRP is considered the new standard. However, that goes against the buying experience customers have had for years. Dealerships will have to develop other types of incentives to help soften the blow of rigid pricing.


As we can see by the trends, the status quo for car dealerships is changing. For some, this will be a mad dash to keep their place as leaders in the dealership industry. For others, this rapid shift will present a chance for new dealerships to take the lead and overtake any dealers that might be dragging their feet. Whatever the case may be, there is a lot of work to be done.

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