How Carvana is transforming the car buying process

The online car buying platform is conveying its seamless, personalized shopping experience through humorous and data-driven marketing.

Buying a car is never as fast or straightforward as you want it to be. Nonetheless, it’s a legacy, entrenched process that hasn’t changed in decades.

Carvana hopes to change consumer behavior by bringing car buying online — and conveying clearly to its audience that the industry can adapt.

Carvana owns the entire car buying experience, from the inventory available on its platform, to the logistics network that delivers cars to its famous vending machines or directly to people’s homes. Consumers can choose the car model they like and apply for financing and with various payment options directly on the platform. 

The platform is designed to provide a more seamless and personalized experience, said Ryan Keeton, chief brand officer at Carvana. 

“This gives people transparency and control, compared to the traditional way,” he said. “You’re able to go through the whole transaction online.”

But because car buying hasn’t evolved in decades, Carvana has to do a lot of explaining and evangelizing in its marketing. The brand takes a light and tongue-in-cheek approach to do that, partnering with comedic actor Rob Corddry on a series of spots this fall that show how archaic the car buying process can be. 

In addition to brand marketing, Carvana is also a data-driven marketer, tapping into consumer behavior on its site to better tailor programs based on where people are in their car buying journey, whether that’s browsing new models, applying for financing or scheduling a delivery. 

“We can look at organic traffic [online] the minute a spot airs,” Keeton said. 

Carvana, which takes a “build vs. buy” approach to most disciplines, does all of its marketing in-house, from advertising, and comms to UX and UI. Without the silos that exist in agencies, teams are able to “understand what the customer is going through” and tailor marketing plans accordingly, Keeton said.

The brand, which is leaning into tailwinds of the pandemic, was growing before COVID-19 hit. While the pandemic did impact the business at first, it’s designed around an online, contactless experience . Users can skip the crowded dealership and shop from home, and have their car delivered directly to their driveway.

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