ATLANTA – Where are the cars I want? What’s the gas mileage? How reliable are those cars? These are the questions consumers are asking when they shop for cars, and overwhelmingly they are turning to the Internet to find the answers, according to a new research study of new-car buyers conducted in cooperation with R.L. Polk & Co. The just-completed study revealed new-car buyers found the Internet to be one of the most helpful media sources for information throughout the entire car-shopping process, dwarfing traditional media and even feedback from family, friends, and coworkers. And the Internet is second only to the dealer visit as the overall most useful source of information throughout the entire car-shopping process.
AutoTrader.com President and CEO Chip Perry shared results from the study during his presentation on the “Future of Internet Automotive Advertising” at the J.D. Power Automotive Internet Roundtable, Oct. 18, at the Red Rock Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. His presentation explored how the Internet will continue to impact and improve consumers’ car-shopping experience in the years ahead.
“As an industry, we’ve got to do a better job of giving customers online access to the information they want,” Perry said. “And manufacturers, dealer associations, and dealerships should review their media mix and direct more of their branding and informational advertising to the Internet because that’s where the customers are focusing their attention.”
While, according to the study, 42 percent of new-car buyers said the Internet was the most helpful source of information during their car buying process, only eight percent said television was the most helpful source of information, two percent said direct mail was the most helpful source, and one percent said radio or newspapers were the most helpful sources.
According to the study, independent of price, when searching the Internet for new cars, 27 percent of new car buyers said dealer inventory was the most important piece of information they wanted. In searching the Internet, 36 percent of new-car buyers said the original manufacturers sites were the most useful of the Internet sites they searched. Twenty percent said third-party car sites were the most useful sites, and 18 percent said individual dealer sites were the most useful sites.
Working in cooperation with R.L. Polk & Co., AutoTrader.com commissioned the study to obtain a better understanding of consumer needs when shopping for a new car, the most helpful media sources when shopping for a new car, the most helpful media sources when shopping for a new car, kind of information gathered from those sources, percentage of total shopping time spent online, the number of vehicles considered, and the length of the new-car shopping cycle from serious consideration to actual purchase. Survey participants were 18 years or older; 816 people participated in the survey.