The study finds that in the past five years, the percentage of buyers finding their used vehicle through a traditional newspaper or magazine classified ad has been cut in half (from 14 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2006). During the same period, buyers who found their vehicle through an online classified has doubled (from 8 percent in 2002 to 16 percent in 2006).
"Print continues to serve an important purpose in marketing, but its role in the area of classified listings is diminishing quickly," said Min Cho, senior analyst at J.D. Power and Associates. "The domination of the Internet over print in the used-vehicle market will only increase as today's younger buyers become a larger buying force in the market. Buyers under the age of 35 are more than four times as likely to be led to the vehicle they purchase by information found online than by print classified ads."
More late-model used-vehicle buyers are using the Internet in their vehicle shopping process than ever before. This year, 59 percent of used-vehicle buyers used the Internet during the shopping process – up from 53 percent in 2005. Furthermore, 80 percent of used-vehicle buyers now have access to the Internet – a 4 percentage-point increase from 2005. This increase in Internet access is driven largely by buyers 60 years old and older.Independent Web sites continue to garner the highest visitation rates among used-vehicle buyers (90 percent). These buyers are specifically turning to independent sites for pricing, inventory, and reliability information. Many independent automotive sites also offer online classified listings powered by sites such as AutoTrader.com or cars.com.
Dealership sites attract large numbers of used-vehicle buyers as well. In fact, significantly more used-vehicle buyers who use the Internet visit dealership Web sites than do new-vehicle buyers (64 percent versus 48 percent, respectively). Although many manufacturer Web sites don't offer much information about vehicles made in previous years, they do have high visitation rates among used-vehicle buyers. This could be due to the fact that 41 percent of late-model used-vehicle buyers consider one or more new vehicles before they buy.
The 2006 Used Autoshopper.com Study is based on responses from 12,317 used-vehicle buyers who purchased pre-owned 2001-2006 model-year vehicles.