US Automotive Insights ‘Pickup’ the Competition Insights that help you understand the path to purchase and how top-selling pickup trucks are ranked and searched against competing models

Trucking Ahead

With the microchip shortage impacting car availability,1 there has been an increased urgency for buyers to make a decision before getting sidelined. Dwindling access to supply has significantly decreased the time it is taking for a user to contact the dealership, with pickup truck buyers who considered payment options taking 3 fewer days before contacting a dealership.

Knowing that this customer journey is happening more quickly, it’s never been more important to tap into audience insights to:

  • Understand the “pickup path to purchase”

    Today’s pickup truck buyers have specific triggers and paths to purchase. Know who this audience is and how they buy.

  • Learn where you rank with competitors

    Through Quadrant Segment Mapping, understand how your car brand ranks among pickup truck competitors.

Pickup Path to Purchase Today’s pickup truck buyers have specific triggers and paths to purchase.

The automotive customer journey has four key touchpoints

What does the online journey look like for pickup truck buyers in recent months?

Model Search

Users browse for model-specific content (specs, gallery, inventory)


Users view pages on current offers and incentives

Payment Estimator

Users calculate their financial payments

Contact Dealership

Users contact a dealer representative / book an appointment

DEMOGRAPHICS Aspirers versus Intenders

Pickup trucks, like many other car segments, attract aspirational buyers as well as core in-market intenders, with this reflected in the demographics at each buyer stage. Intenders who have contacted a dealership skew mid-life (ages 30-44) compared to the aspirational site visitor who is age 21-29. This younger audience shows higher interest in promotions and payment estimator tools, highlighting that it could be a more complicated financing process for this group, and so they may be receptive to sales and financing flexibility.

Model Search
  • Gender: Neutral

  • Age: Neutral

  • Income: Neutral

  • Education: Neutral

  • Kids: Neutral

  • Gender: Neutral

  • Age: 21-29 (104)
  • Income: $100k+ (106)
  • Education: Neutral

  • Kids: Neutral

Payment Estimator
  • Gender: Neutral

  • Age: 18-34 (110)
  • Income: less than $50k (105)
  • Education: Grad School (110)
  • Kids: Neutral

Contact Dealership
  • Gender: Neutral

  • Age: 30-44 (107)
  • Income: Neutral

  • Education: No College (107)
  • Kids: Neutral

Devices Most digital research happens on mobile, but financing decisions move to desktop

General model searching is predominantly done on mobile devices, but payment estimating skews more to desktop, likely because it is a more time-intensive research exercise.

Model Search
  • 28% desktop

  • 70% mobile

  • 2.64% tablet

  • 40% desktop

  • 57% mobile

  • 2.29% tablet

Payment Estimator
  • 60% desktop

  • 39% mobile

  • 0.95% tablet

Contact Dealership
  • 8% desktop

  • 90% mobile

  • 1.5% tablet

Devices While mobile phones are most widely used, desktop usage increased in recent months

Similar to macro trends, tablet usage is declining for all audience groups, and mobile phones continue to remain the most preferred device type.

Quantcast data and research show that users aged 45+ prefer laptops and desktop for online search activities, indicating a preference for larger screen experiences versus accessing information quickly using a handheld mobile device.

There are two primary paths to purchase for buyer types

Typical Auto Buyer

The majority of all test drive bookers (62%) head straight to contacting the dealership from the model info page, taking an average of 2 days.

Model Search > Contact Dealership
  • 62.3%
    of all test drive bookers in 2021
  • 3 day
    pathing duration in 2020
  • 2 day
    pathing duration in 2021
The Comparison Shopper

31% of test drives lead consumers to do a same day model search, highlighting that digital research tools are used to make a final decision on make and model.

Model Search > Payment Estimator > Contact Dealership
  • 31.2%

    of all test drive bookers in 2021

  • 0 day

    pathing duration in 2020 and 2021

Adding financing as a step translates to a longer decision process

The Window Shopper

Pickup truck buyers who look at financing options last often take much longer before contacting the dealership, with an average of 11 days to schedule a test drive.

Model Search > Contact Dealership > Payment Estimator
  • 1.6%
    of all test drive bookers in 2021
  • 13 day
    pathing duration in 2020
  • 11 day
    pathing duration in 2021
The Price-Conscious Buyer

When price is a key factor in choosing a vehicle, it takes longer for a pickup consumer to contact a dealership, with an average of 15 days to schedule a test drive.

Model Search > Payment Estimator > Contact Dealership
  • 1.6%

    of all test drive bookers in 2021

  • 18 day

    pathing duration in 2020

  • 15 day

    pathing duration in 2021

Learn Where You Rank with Competitors Through Quadrant Segment Mapping, understand how your car brand ranks among pickup truck competitors.

What is Quadrant Segment Mapping?

Understanding consumer consideration in relation to close competitors is key to growing the brand and ultimately sales. Quadrant Segment Mapping methodology allows for car brands to understand their appeal and uniqueness. These two measures are a great way to understand the car buyer mindset, honing in on make and model favorability, set against the number of competitors in a given segment.

Mass Appeal score

Measures the likelihood of the car model audience to attract the average segment buyer.

Ranging from “niche” to “popular,” a higher score suggests higher favorability with the segment audience.

Uniqueness score

Measures the likelihood a user would consider competitors when making a purchase decision.

Ranging from “competitor” to “champion,” a higher uniqueness score suggests a car model with less online competition.

How are makes and models mapped on a quadrant?

Using a combination of Quantcast interest and demographic data, we have mapped pickup truck models in quadrants based on their appeal and uniqueness score. Each make and model audience group is created from Quantcast’s real-time keyword interest data aggregated across publisher and tagged sites.

The Data Pickup Truck Rankings Against Competing Models

Learnings Key competitive segment takeaways

Buying American

The Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ford F-150 are the standard bearers within the US pickup truck market. US OEMs are the first stop for consumers interested in pickup trucks. Trucks produced by Japanese manufacturers display relatively low sales volumes and cater to a more niche audience.

RAM Defies Rules

While the RAM 1500 ranks lower in appeal and appears more niche than its main competitors (Silverado, F-150, Sierra), it displayed the second highest monthly sales volume, only beaten by the Ford F-150. The RAM 1500 also ranks as the #1 truck by several publications (Car and Driver Magazine, MotorTrend, and CarMax).

Mid-Size Mainstream

On average, light-duty trucks showcase a higher uniqueness score, while mid-size trucks display a higher average mass appeal. This means that mid-size trucks are deemed more “mainstream” within the overall pickup truck market.

What is a cross-search indices?

It is a way for you to understand the consideration set for your specific vehicle, highlighting not only what other brands are also being searched with yours, but also how they rank in that search process.


This provides an invaluable competitive advantage, allowing you to customize benefits messaging to highlight the key differentiators compared to the top competitive brands searched.


Cross-search behavior for each model is analyzed to understand the percentage of users who also searched competing models. More users who searched competitors of model X, while also searching for model X, represents higher cross-search activity for model X.

The Data Pickup Truck Cross-Search Indices

Learnings Key competitive cross-search takeaways

It is a way for you to understand the consideration set for your specific vehicle, highlighting not only what other brands are also being searched with yours, but also how they rank in that search process.

Light-duty truck buyers consider all brands in the segment

A high level of cross-searching takes place between the smaller truck models. Consumers interested in light-duty trucks (Ranger, Tacoma, Colorado, Canyon) all have relatively higher interest among one another.

Brand loyalists consider all class options within a single preferred OEM

Pickup trucks of different classes (light-duty vs. mid-size) but from the same OEM have a high likelihood of cross-searching. The high indices seen between the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra , Ford Ranger and F-150, and Chevy Colorado and Silverado are examples of this.

Jeep buyers are loyal and don’t cross search

The Jeep Gladiator is the least cross searched vehicle within the trucks segment, making it the most unique vehicle overall.

Actioning on Insights

Review your car brand and model within Quantcast’s quadrant segment and cross-search indices

Understand who is searching for your model–is where you are placed within the quadrant in line with your marketing strategy? If you are aiming to reach a wider audience with specific models, Quantcast data can help you understand any gaps you have to reach your audience goals.

Understand where you stand with competitors

Getting a deep understanding of your main competitors can help you identify threats from those who share similar audience profiles with your brand. Mapping out where specific models stand amidst competing brands can help you develop more targeted ad strategies that drive more visits to your brand or dealership’s website and encourage more conversions.

>95% of car purchases happen at the dealership, but start with an online search

Using the Quantcast Platform to understand car-buying trends, as well as certain keywords your audiences are searching for, can help you adjust your campaign tactics and get your brand in front of your prospects when they are ready to buy. Layering your digital marketing strategies with compelling in-store offers will help you maximize your customer reach, both online and offline.

Work with Quantcast to action on insights

Tap into the power of unique real-time data to drive brand and performance outcomes for your holiday budgets.