CHICAGO – Experian Automotive and have announced details of new studies that independently measure the impact of certification on vehicle sales and consumer awareness of certified programs and their features. According to the findings, shoppers who submitted leads to dealerships on certified vehicles had a shorter time to purchase, were more likely to buy within the brand for which they sent their initial lead and were far more likely to upgrade to a new car purchase.

The findings stem from an Experian Automotive analysis of 345,000 e-mail leads sent by shoppers between January 2005 and February 2006. Among these shoppers, 66 percent purchased a vehicle within the analysis timeframe. On average, shoppers that sent leads on certified vehicles bought a car seven days faster than non-certified lead senders.

In keeping with manufacturer goals to build brand loyalty, certified lead senders were also 29-percent more likely to stay within the brand for which they sent the lead vs. used-car lead senders. Many of these lead senders converted to new-car buyers.

"These findings demonstrate the continued strength and value of certified pre-owned (CPO) programs to the manufacturers," said Dave Nemtuda, director of AutoCheck Solutions for Experian Automotive. "In fact, a CPO lead is 75-percent more likely to convert into a new-vehicle sale than a non-CPO used-vehicle lead." also surveyed online used-car shoppers to gauge their awareness, understanding, and consideration of certified programs and their features. While only a small percentage of shoppers were specifically shopping for a certified vehicle, 70 percent of used-car shoppers on the site would consider buying a CPO vehicle if it met their needs. Among those shoppers, there was a high level of awareness of certified program features, including inspections, vehicle history reports, and warranties. Shoppers also rated these features as the most important.

Reflecting the opportunity for continued certified education in the marketplace, shoppers were less familiar with certified features such as roadside assistance and incentives. There was a considerable disparity between consumers' awareness of certified benefits and the importance shoppers placed on them. For example, while nearly half of shoppers cited the importance of incentives, only 21 percent associated incentives with certified programs.

"While we have come a long way in building general awareness and consideration of CPO vehicles, we see continued opportunity for manufacturers to educate potential buyers of the many benefits to buying a certified used vehicle," said Kevin Considine,'s vice president of advertising. "By increasing awareness of specific program features, there is a distinct opportunity to bring more shoppers into the certified consideration set."

Car shoppers responding to the survey attributed certification awareness to three primary sources: third-party Web sites, manufacturer television ads and Web sites, and dealerships. Among them, third-party and manufacturer resources proved most effective at building awareness of specific program features and benefits.

"The Internet provides an ideal forum for manufacturers to educate consumers about their brand and the myriad CPO program features and benefits," said Considine. "As car shoppers look to make well-informed buying decisions, they often require more information than can be conveyed in a 30-second TV or radio spot."