Study Recommends Greater Collaboration between Automakers, Websites
According to the study, 79% of new-vehicle buyers go online to conduct their research as soon as they make a decision to buy a vehicle. J.D. Power calls this group of new-vehicle buyers Automotive Internet Users (AIUs).
Online destinations for AIUs, in order of preference, include manufacturer websites (98%); third-party websites (81%); and dealer websites (73%). Only 5% of new-vehicle buyers visit social media websites during the shopping process.
The study finds that AIUs use manufacturer websites to research specific models and use build tools to configure and price vehicles. Third-party websites are used for comparing vehicles, obtaining trade-in values, and reading reviews of vehicles. Dealer websites are used to check inventory, get directions and hours of operation, and obtain contact information. Nearly 60% of AIUs narrow their vehicle choice to one model in the week prior to purchase.
"With such a wide range of information available digitally, it's important for OEMs to partner with automotive sites, not only to drive traffic to the brand and dealer sites, but also to offer consistency in the information and tools shoppers rely on," said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power and Associates.
The 2012 New Autoshopper Study also examines how AIUs access online information about new vehicles. According to the study, 30% of AIUs use multiple devices to gather information, with 20% using a smartphone and 18% using a tablet. Tablets, though mobile, are used by AIUs primarily at home. Among AIUs using smartphones to access information, 59% do so at the dealership, mainly to view vehicle pricing and information, inventory, and competitive models.
"Access to new-vehicle information through the Internet and apps--obtained via personal computers, smartphones and tablets--is having a greater impact on many aspects of the purchase decision than ever before," said Walker. "It is important for brands and websites to provide consistency across their sites and apps, no matter what device is being used to access the information. The shopping experience should be equally usable and the shopping information equally complete, no matter the device."
The 2012 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 12,289 purchasers and lessees of 2010 to 2012 model-year new vehicles who used information gathered digitally in their shopping process.