From in-car to store: Steering in-the-moment buying decisions

Competition for consumers’ eyes and wallets is growing. That means winning retailers must sway in-the-moment buying decisions. And consumers make those decisions behind the wheel.

Whether fueled by remote work habits or cabin fever, the draw of the road is translating into new opportunities for retailers to woo shoppers into stores.

New experiences are driving shoppers to visit stores

As the temperatures are rising, so are trips to brick-and-mortar retail stores. More than 140 million people use the Waze app each month, and the data shows they’re driving to make purchases more frequently.

Waze user navigations to retail locations in the US are up 4.3% year over year when comparing Q1 2022 to Q1 2021. [1]

That includes a 8.9% boost in user navigations to shopping centers and a 8.8% boost in user navigations to department stores. [2, 3]

Because of the high value of in-store shoppers, retailers are pulling out all the stops and doubling down on their investments to get consumers back to their storefronts. Take store-within-a-store experiences, for instance: Ulta at Target, Sephora at Kohl’s, Tonal at Nordstrom all operate in addition to these brands’ standalone storefronts. The format is gaining traction as retailers give partner vendors space and autonomy within their stores. For retailers, the proposed trade-off is increased footfall and a wider customer base. For shoppers, it’s a way to access more of their favorite brands in fewer trips, or test products that might be harder to access otherwise.

As we head further into the warmer months, retailers can expect an even greater boost in visits and more opportunities to tap into these high value shoppers. Waze data shows that navigations to retail locations increase by an average of 11% during summer months, when users drive 25% more miles compared to other seasons. [4]

New consumer behaviors driving 2022 retail sales

Today’s consumers are also hungry for human connection. Retailers’ abilities to align with these mindsets will be the difference between growth and stagnation, according to trend forecasting company WGSN. [5] This global research firm used demographic and psychographic data to identify significant retail consumer segments, including one they call The New Optimists – a group displaying a huge appetite for moments of joy and celebration. Hints of this are already present in the events industry, as the top five US event venues were projected to host 20% more events in the first quarter of 2022 than they did in pre-pandemic 2019. [6]

Waze data shows catering to this segment may be a good idea.
Waze user navigations in Q1 to cultural and entertainment venues in the US increased by 55.8% year over year
[7] That uptrend extends to self-care and spurges, too. Waze users
year over year for the 12-month period that ended in Q1 2022. [7] That uptrend extends to self-care and spurges, too. Waze users increased navigations over the same period to jewelry stores by 5.8% and increased navigations to personal care retailers by 15.4%. [8,9,10]

In-car advertising sways decisions in precise contexts

To capture in-the-moment shopping decisions, retailers must expand their footprint by finding selling opportunities everywhere. People already en route to a destination are prime targets. “On-the-go consumers in their cars represent a critical — and largely unapped — context for advertising, where targeted messages influence buyer behavior at the moment they are most likely to act,” Forrester reports. [11]

One brand that has capitalized on the on-the-go consumer, SpinMaster, wanted to drive customers to Target and Walmart retail locations for PAW Patrol toys surrounding the buzz for the PAW Patrol movie premiere. To achieve that, the brand invested in a mix of Search, Pins and “Drive There” Takeover ads that directed Waze users to a Walmart or Target store when tapped, all while drivers listened to PAW Patrol characters voicing their journey and branding the experience. Exposure to Waze ads alongside this campaign led to over 10.6 million store visits and resulted in a 7% sales lift at Walmart and a 2.19% average incremental store visit lift across both retailers. [12]

Driving tangible business outcomes for brands and retailers is what advertisers draws to the Waze platform, notes Liz Franz, Head of Retail Industry for Waze.

“Waze data supports the findings of leading global researchers, confirming that consumers continue to predominantly shop in-store and are navigating to retail locations,Franz said.By being visible in those in-car decision moments, Waze advertisers are successfully influencing behavior at the moment consumers are most likely to act. The documented impact of in-car advertising is one reason why more than 25,000 businesses trust Waze ads to reach nearby shoppers.”

Accelerating results

As physical and digital behaviors blur, retail marketers must embrace hybrid strategies to remain relevant to consumers. In doing so, in-car advertising is a proven opportunity to compel shoppers when they’re most likely to spend.

See it for yourself: Search Waze datalearn more about category trends and see how Waze can support your revenue goals at


[1] “Category Trends.” Waze, April 1, 2022-March 31, 2022. URLAccessed 5 April 2022.

[2] “Category Trends.” Waze, Jan. 1, 2022-March 31, 2022. URLAccessed 5 April 2022.

[3] “Category Trends.” Waze, Jan. 1, 2022-March 31, 2022. URLAccessed 5 April 2022.

[4] Waze Internal Data, 2022.

[5] “Future Consumer 2022.” WGSN, December 2021, URL. Accessed 17 March 2022.

[6] “Beyond Streaming: What’s Next for Media in 2022?” Morgan Stanley. URL. Accessed 13 April 2022

[7] “Category Trends.” Waze, Jan. 1, 2022-March 31, 2022. URLAccessed 5 April 2022.

[8] “Category Trends.” Waze, Jan. 1, 2022-March 31, 2022. URLAccessed 5 April 2022.

[9] “Category Trends.” Waze, Jan. 1, 2022-March 31, 2022. URLAccessed 5 April 2022.

[10] “Category Trends.” Waze, Jan. 1, 2022-March 31, 2022. URLAccessed 5 April 2022.

[11] “Intercept consumers on the go with digital out-of-home ads.” Forrester/Waze, April 2020, URL. Accessed 17 March 2022.

[12] “Spin Master’s PAW Patrol drives toy purchases at retail locations ahead of movie launch.” Waze, April 2022. URL. Accessed 20 April 2022.

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