Nearly one in five new car buyers are in the market because they have an urgent need to replace their current vehicle due an unforeseen event, such as a breakdown or accident, according to new research by What Car?.

What Car? surveyed 1534 in-market car buyers, and 18% said they were in the market because of a “catastrophe”. As a result, they were in urgent need of a replacement vehicle and far less likely to wait for a factory

ordered car.

The survey also revealed that these buyers were far more likely to want to test drive prior to purchase, with 65% stating that they drove multiple cars in search of a replacement, compared with just 33% of normal buyers. This was identified as a means of ‘short-cutting the need to do extensive research elsewhere prior to buying the car’.

The unplanned nature of the purchase was reflected elsewhere, too; What Car? also discovered that “catastrophe” buyers are far more likely to change their minds during the purchase process. Nearly half said they changed their mind a lot during the process, compared with just 13% of other buyers.

Crucially for retailers, buyers who frequently changed their mind during the purchase process were found to underspend on their initial budget. Nearly 50% of respondents in this category reported spending less, compared with just over 20% of those who didn’t change their minds frequently.

The research also showed that “catastrophe” buyers are far more susceptible to emotional pain points (defined as a negative experience in the research and car buying process) in their car-buying journey. For instance, nearly half (46%) of all catastrophe buyers said stock availability was important to them, compared with 39% of normal buyers.

Getting a good price or finance deal was also a higher priority for these buyers; more than half considered this an important aspect, compared with 46% of normal buyers.