Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Assn., tells WardsAuto he understands Fair’s expectation of working together with dealers, as well as the dealers’ interest in finding new and better business ideas.

But Maas is not too concerned about his members’ ability to survive in the new digital frontier, saying: “Everbody’s got to change their game to match the changing tastes and interests of consumers and dealers. For 100 years, (they) have been at the forefront of that...they’re very good at adapting to changing market conditions because they’re in touch with their customers in ways that no other vendor really is.”

Maas says he and his staff are conducting an analysis of the Fair app to determine “whether it’s compliant with California law...and supplies consumers with the disclosure that they need.”

Despite the prevailing dissatisfaction with traditional sales experiences, not all the market numbers are bad for dealers, suggests Marco Schnabl, co-founder and CEO of automotiveMastermind, a predictive consumer behavior service with offices in Los Angeles and New York.

He says internal and external surveys reveal 75% of consumers across all generations still want to see a product in the store, and one-third of all consumers feel bricks-and-mortar locations remain just as important as online markets.

Perhaps more surprising, Schnabl says a majority of Millennials value traditional stores as much as did their “Silent Generation” counterparts – born from the mid-1920s to mid-40s – when they drove market trends.

“It now is all on the dealerships, to take a really close look inside and say, ‘Is my current staff well-positioned, well-trained, and is my internal culture also (one where) consumers come first, are the consumers the front-of-mind with everything I do?’” he says.

Schnabl acknowledges dealerships are under enormous pressure from OEMs to sell cars while margins are shrinking. “This transformation that we’re going through, there’s going to be some pain...but it doesn’t mean that the dealerships are becoming obsolete. Dealerships still need to be local, they still need to support you.”

When the digital revolution makes dealers able to access the sales data they need quickly, “they tend to focus on the one thing, and one thing only that they really do the best: just building relationships, building trust and providing quality information to the consumer,” Schnabl says.

Consumers will continue to feel “a human desire to see the goods before they make the final purchase decision,” he says. “They still what to see the whites in the eyes from the person they’re buying their second-highest investment from.”