STUDY_AUTO

2014 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study--Winter Results

By: Jeff Youngs, 1/30/2014
More than 20% of automotive manufacturers (OEMs) now use responsive design technology on their websites, enabling new-vehicle shoppers to view the same website content across a variety of devices and screen sizes, according to the recently released J.D. Power 2014 Manufacturer Website Evaluation StudySM (MWES)--Winter (formerly MWES--Wave 1).

The semiannual study, now in its 15th year, measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content, navigation, appearance, and speed. Acura ranks highest in customer satisfaction (859 points on a 1,000-point scale) for a second consecutive time, followed by Jeep (851) and Infiniti (850). Overall satisfaction with automotive brand websites averages 822.

The study finds that seven of the 33 main automotive brands (21%) have implemented responsive design technology in their websites. Those OEMs that transitioned to responsive design all completely redesigned their websites in the process. Those OEM sites in the 2014 MWES--Winter that have implemented responsive design since the last reporting period in July 2013 have maintained website satisfaction among new-vehicle shoppers viewing their website using desktop computers (821 vs. 827 on a 1000-point scale, respectively). Additionally, there is only a 3-point gap in satisfaction scores between new-vehicle shoppers viewing responsive design websites (820) and those using a traditional website (823) on desktop computers.

Among automotive shoppers who are "delighted" with their experience on an OEM website while using a desktop computer (satisfaction index score of 901 or greater), 73% indicate they are more likely to test-drive a vehicle after visiting that website, compared with only 16% of "disappointed" shoppers (satisfaction index score of 500 or less).

Satisfaction is 35 points higher among shoppers who maximize their browser when visiting an OEM website, compared with shoppers who viewed the website in a windowed mode. When using a responsive design website, satisfaction is only 10 points higher among shoppers who maximize their browser, compared with shoppers who viewed in windowed mode, indicating a more consistent experience.

"Developing robust and easy-to-use navigation and offering the right amount of content is critical for websites that are transitioning to a single responsive design site," said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. "Considering that the majority of new-vehicle shoppers gather digital information about a vehicle prior to visiting a dealer showroom, the manufacturer website is critical to helping them decide to head to the dealership. If the site does not function well or takes a long time to load the page content, some shoppers may turn to other sources, where they may discover other brands and models, or even lose confidence in the brand itself and cross the vehicle off their shopping list."

Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
  • If you're taking advantage of the OEM website's responsive design technology, use a desktop computer with a large screen and maximize the browser window for a more satisfying experience.
  • When shopping for a new vehicle, use the OEM website to compare the features, prices, and specifications offered by different automakers. Then drill deeper to see which dealers in your area might be offering the most attractive terms.
  • Even if you feel you've designed a vehicle to your satisfaction on the website, check with your dealer to see whether further customization is available, or whether you can get a lower price than indicated on the website.

The 2014 MWES--Winter is based on responses from 9,469 new-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded November 7, 2013, through December 4, 2013.

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