micro moments

a holistic picture

AutoTrader wanted to better understand the car purchase journey, clearly defining the stages consumers go through (including by key target segment). They had some knowledge, but it was disparate and disjointed. They wanted a holistic, deeper understanding.

Join the Dots worked with AutoTrader to deliver a staged research programme that combined consumer trends, mobile ethnography, in-home depth interviews, short term online community and quant survey.

The mobile ethnography was integral to the success of the project. Across the course of 4 weeks, we asked people in the process of buying a car to keep a media rich diary of their experience. In particular, this element captured ‘micro moments’ that would be missed using alternative approaches. We created a detailed picture in terms of current experiences, motivations, efforts and feelings throughout the car buying process. Around 25 consumers uploaded nearly 400 posts comprising video, photos, screenshots and text.

In-home ethno depths allowed us to explore and reflect on individual car buying journeys – triggers, missions, mood states, barriers, influencers, improvements, etc.

The research will influence multiple areas of the business including consumer audience growth through site development, product offering and marketing message. It will also position AutoTrader as a thought leader to its advertisers.

Our team


Sarah De Caux
Senior Research Director

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We were delighted with the Join the Dots collaborative approach and, most importantly, the quality of their research and analysis.

Having run multiple research studies into this area prior to commissioning this work, this approach is the first time we feel we have truly got under the skin of the journey.

Particularly illuminating were the c.400 car purchase ‘micro moments’ uncovered by the in-the-moment app. The insights will help us improve the AutoTrader offer, benefiting both car buyers and our advertising clients.

Stuart Bluck
Head of Research & Insight

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