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October 25, 2023

When Are Car Buyers the Happiest? // Local Marketing Insider #069

Here's how dealers can surface trends in reviews

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For the first time in the LMI's nearly 3-year tenure, it’s been a month since the last LMI. 2 weeks ago I was in the hospital, with a medical emergency I didn’t expect to face at age 31.

I'm back, healthy, happy and excited to be writing the LMI once again. But, especially with the holidays coming up, I’m making sure to pause and appreciate family, friends and loved ones. Here's to enjoying a great marketing tactic or newsletter, because, in the end, it’s all good fun.

Today, we’re diving deep into a subject we skimmed before (see LMI #63): customer sentiment trends over time and focusing on winter vs. summer.

I want to show you some of Widewail’s proprietary data for automotive. 

When are customers happiest during the year? We looked at over a million dealer reviews from 2020-2023 to find out.

Turns out, car buyers are the happiest in the winter.

Negativity Summer vs Winter Automotive-2

In the chart, we’re looking at negativity. The Y-axis shows the percentage of reviews that are <4 stars.

Looking back at negative review trends from 2020 to 2023, we can follow the white line to see clear spikes and dips in negative reviews.  

The bars in grey represent the winter months and the bars in yellow showcase the summer months. 

Since COVID, we see a pattern emerging. Low negative sentiment in the winter, higher negative sentiment in the summer. 

Negative review percentages peaked in the summer of 2020. This makes sense. Deep into the pandemic, lockdowns have ended and life slowly begins again. Inventory shortages, mask policies and customer discomfort reign this summer. Negative reviews were inevitable.

Winter 2021 brings a reprise—a new low in negative reviews. Negative review percentages creep up during and beyond summer 2021, dropping again in winter 2022. The pattern continues, although with slightly less dramatic spikes and dips. 

It’s clear: automotive customers leave fewer negative reviews during the winter.


One possibility: At the beginning of the year new car models are coming out, getting people excited. The prior year’s models can be cheaper at this time of year, saving people money if they buy an older model. 

To car dealers reading this, what else comes to mind for you? Does it surprise you that car buyers are consistently a few percentage points happier during the winter? 

voice of the customer report promo in article

How to research this at your dealership

Try looking back at review content from previous seasons. Start with your negativity percentages and then dig into the customer comments. Do any trends emerge? Sentiment reporting in Widewail can help streamline this. Do the negativity trends at your dealership mirror the Widewail customer base?

What are your customers saying most during each season and how does that appear to influence sentiment? (Widewail clients can use the Tags Report to pull these insights and LMI #062 details how to do a version of this analysis with ChatGPT for free.)


It's great to be back. Thanks for reading!

See you in 2 weeks - Jake, Marketing @Widewail



Jake Hughes

I’m the Director of Marketing here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. I'm in Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0 to 100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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