Archive for category Automotive Sales

Online Car Selling Checklist for Automotive Marketing

Online Car Selling Checklist for Automotive Marketing Professionals

 

Online Car Selling Checklist

Can a computer sell a car?

While much of the online car selling process is automated these days, the answer is still no. To successfully sell a car online, there are a few essential points that auto dealers and individual sellers need to remember. Mere hours of work, invested by a few people, can dramatically improve your vehicle sales online.

Before you post your vehicles on the internet, double-check Strathcom’s Online Car Selling Checklist:

1. Do you have great descriptions to hook your reader?

When you’re selling online, you need to engage your reader the same way an author does, in the first paragraph. Do you have detailed, complete vehicle descriptions? If not, don’t expect to sell cars.

*Pictures and descriptions can lower a bounce rate by up to 60% (Bounce rate is the percentage of people  that leave your site without clicking through to another page)

Tips:

  • Be descriptive — “soft, heated leather upholstery” sounds better than just “heated seats.”
  • Use safe terminology — avoid words like “mint” or “new.” A car isn’t new if it’s three years old. Rather, use ambiguous or interpretive terminology like “very clean,” which won’t cause problems down the road.
  • Use words people relate to — “well maintained,” “local,” and “accident–free” are examples.
  • Paint a picture — help readers picture a car in their minds. A good description for a convertible: “This cabriolet turns heads cruising in the sun.”
  • Tailor descriptions — is it summer? Then describe the efficient A/C system. Winter? Mention the vehicle has a car starter and heated seats.
  • Instil confidence in the reader — use words like unique, rare find, great find, very successful, award winning, economical, powerful, safe, beautiful, stunning, eye catching, head turning, best-selling, etc. Customers want to know they’re making a great buy.
  • “What’s in it for me?” — Highlight the benefits of each element you are describing to your customer. Don’t just say “has silicone wiper blades,” but rather add “Silicone wiper blades last three times longer and perform better than ordinary rubber blades. They offer resistance to fuels, oils, acid rain, washer fluid and road grime.”

The industry is changing. Things like “Tilt” and “ABS” are no longer selling features. People now want to know the MPG or L/100km they will get on a tank of gas. Honesty is important too; if a vehicle has high kilometers, admit it — but focus on its spotless service record.

Bottom line: writing good descriptions will increase the amount you get paid for your vehicles.

2. Have you posted pricing for all of your vehicles?

While some dealers feel that more people will call if there is no price, this is never the case. You should at the very minimum post a MSRP for new vehicles and make it easy for a consumer to submit a lead for more information. Pricing should always be posted for used vehicles — no exception.

3. Are your descriptions legible?

Ensure that your listings have proper spelling, grammar and easy-to-read fonts. Avoid wild colours, OVER-CAPITALIZATION (AKA “caps lock syndrome”), and fancy fonts as these elements will not give you more attention, but rather annoy the reader.

*Car buyers now physically visit only 1.3 dealerships before buying. Don’t give them a reason to go to the competition

   

4. Are you consistent across all postings?

Complete descriptions, detailed photos, proper prices — all of the elements that make a good vehicle posting need to be applied across the board on your listings to capitalize on return traffic. Consumers will research for 3-6 months before making a purchase, meaning they will return to your site multiple times; you should convey the correct brand message on each visit.

5. Do you have photos for all of your vehicles?

Having good vehicle photos should be common sense; customers want to see a car before they buy it. Do you have pictures for all of your vehicles? Do you have them online as soon as a car hits the lot? You should, or you could be losing sales to the competition.

*According to Kijiji, ads with pictures were twice as likely to get a reply than those without

Tips:

  • Highlight selling features — focus on what matters to your buyer. Selling a minivan? Focus on interior and safety.
  • Timeliness is extremely important — get pictures online within 48 hours of the unit arriving.
  • Include a variety of photos — give your customers an online walk-around of the vehicle.
  • Take Interior & Exterior Photos — get every angle: under the hood, the dashboard, seats (front and rear) and the exterior.

Side-by-side, which looks more appealing: no-name pop, or Coke? Which would you pay more for? Having vehicle photos is like branding. It makes customers more confident in your product, and increases sales while allowing you to ask more for a vehicle.

The principles are the same online as they have always been offline. If someone came in to buy a Cadillac Escalade, you wouldn’t bring up gas mileage. The point is to tailor your photos and descriptions to each vehicle. This is the best way to build quality leads that will make you a lot more money.

– Michael Fisher with Stuart Bendall and Trish Rowsell

 

 

via Online Car Selling Checklist – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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Do New Car Photos Really Make a Difference from Stock Photos? – Automotive Marketing Professionals

Do New Car Photos Really Make a Difference from Stock Photos?

ADM Forum Question Posted by Kim Essenmacher

I have to ask this question because each seminar, webinar and research study that I have read is stating this to be the case. It increases VDP’s, time on the site and in turn increases sales.  Here is a study from KBB:

Shoppers Want Actual New Vehicle Photos, Not Stock Photography on Dealer Web Sites

According to a new study conducted by Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research among in-market car buyers, 90 percent of vehicle shoppers would prefer to view actual photos of new vehicles currently on the dealer’s lot than view stock photography of a vehicle they are interested in buying.

When it comes to purchasing a used vehicle, viewing photos of the exact vehicle, its options, condition and mileage help a potential buyer make a purchase decision. But, when it comes to buying a new vehicle, in-market shoppers say they want to have that same luxury; seeing photos of the exact vehicle on a dealer’s lot before driving to the dealership. Today, most dealerships use stock photography of new vehicles provided by the manufacturer to showcase current model-year vehicles.

Recent market research shows nearly 70 percent of today’s new vehicle shoppers are turning to the Internet for new vehicle research. Nearly half of these shoppers visit at least one dealership Web site during the research process, making the information found on the dealer’s Web site crucial in garnering a new customer. In fact, 74 percent of vehicle shoppers say they are more likely to visit a dealership if they are able to view a picture of an actual vehicle currently available on the lot, rather than stock photography. What’s more, 53 percent would be more likely to buy that particular vehicle from a dealership offering actual photos of in-stock vehicles.

CDMdata Inc., a Kelley Blue Book Company, offers products and services that aid dealers in easily marketing both their new and used vehicles online with photos. CDMdata’s DigitalLot® Solution is a device that collects vehicle information by scanning the VIN, takes multiple photos of the actual vehicle and then uploads all of the information to the dealer’s Web site (and up to 150 retail Web sites) with the simple push of a button. The DigitalLot Solution can take up to 32 photos of each vehicle, and the in-depth VIN explosion allows consumers to instantly and accurately view all of the detailed information about their prospective new or used vehicle. For dealers who prefer to have someone else doing the book-in work, CDM Dealer Services provides a company representative to come to the dealer’s lot to upload the information and photography for them.

“The online automotive shopping and buying process must continue to evolve, and the DigitalLot Solution is a critical tool to help dealers improve their relationships and build more trust with online shoppers,” said Mike Romano, chief operating officer for CDMdata, Inc. and vice president of dealer strategy for Kelley Blue Book. “Whether using the solution for new or used vehicles, the DigitalLot quickly and easily automates the process of uploading dealers’ online inventory, allowing them to ultimately sell more cars faster.”

About Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com)

Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com is America’s most used and trusted vehicle pricing, values and information resource. The top-rated Web site provides the most up-to-date pricing and values for thousands of new and used vehicles, including the New Car Blue Book® Value, which reveals what people actually are paying for new cars. Since 1926, car buyers and sellers have relied upon Kelley Blue Book for authoritative and unbiased information to make well-informed automotive decisions. The company also reports vehicle prices and values via products and services, including the famous Blue Book® Official Guide and software products. Kbb.com has been rated the No. 1 automotive information site by Nielsen//NetRatings and the most visited auto site by J.D. Power and Associates eight years in a row. No other medium reaches more in-market vehicle shoppers than kbb.com; nearly one in every three American car buyers perform their research on kbb.com.

SOURCE: Kelley Blue Book

CONTACT: Robyn Eckard, +1-949-268-3049, reckard@kbb.com, or Joanna
McNally, +1-949-268-3079, jmcnally@kbb.com, both of Kelley Blue Book

Web site: http://www.kbb.com/

 

However, the largest dealer group in our state doesn’t use custom photos. My GM is afraid that if customers see new car photos that the customer won’t think that they can custom order a vehicle and we will lose sales!

I told my GM if he is worried about losing custom photos, we could put in the comments “Call if you don’t see what you are looking for?”

Also, how do we know that new car photos wouldn’t help increase the largest dealer group’s sales?

 

I am still trying to figure out which is the best way to go?

Any thoughts and additional research is appreciated.

************************************************************

Ralph Paglia Replies to Forum Question Posted by Kim Essenmacher: 

this is a similar question to “should we put our inventory online”, which was quite the debate up until about ten years ago… There is no question about the effectiveness of actual vehicle photos versus stock images. all the research shows anywhere from double to 4 times the lead volume on inventory with photos versus stock images when half the inventory has one and the other half is the other.

Honestly, this is one of those irritating issues that is a qualified for me on whether or not I want to work with a dealer or group… If they have not yet progressed to the point where the acknowledge that actual vehicle photos work better than stock catalog images, then they probably haven’t switched to broadband from dial-up yet.

Now, with that said there are alwys the economic considerations… let me explain. If you sell a brand of new vehicles where demand dramatically outstrips supply and your biggest problem is how much to mark up new vehicles above MSRP, then do not bother incurring the expense of taking inventory photos. heck, for that matter, save electricity and don’t turn on the lot lights at night!

I have done the “actual vehicle photos” comparison at several stores. This is where we run a 3 month test by taking actual photos of all new vehicels that have a stock number ending in an even digit and do not take photos for new vehicles with stock numbers that end in odd digits.  Having done this “test” at at least 6 dealerships over time, rarely do we get to the end because the cars with actual photos get all the leads and phone calls.  Then, when people start showing up on the showroom with the VDP printed out and in their hands, the whole thing turns into a big joke… Sort of “No shit Sherlock” actuial photos work better than catalog images… Again, the only debate os about the expense and the work flow.

Actual photos of new vehicles make almost as big a difference in lead volume as they do for used cars… Ever try advertising used cars with stock photos? It rates a Twitter “EpicFail hash tag.

Real photos generate more leads than catalog images. Can you tell which one of the following images is real… and which one is Memorex?

The new 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche LT Black Diamond and 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche LT Black Diamond inventory images above are from the same dealership and for two different vehicles of exact same model and trim… Also, consider that “Real videos” generate more leads than “Real Photos” alone… Real Photos generate more leads than “Stock Images”… get the drift?

However, before incurring the expense of implementing real photos of new vehcile inventory, there is a genuinely valid question that should be sincerely and realistically answered first: “Does your sales department effectively convert leads into showroom visits and sales?” Because, if the dealership is deficient in handling customer inquiries, and does a poor job of converting leads into sales, and/or does a poor job of converting traffic to the showroom into sales… Then don’t waste time and money on inventory photos. You have more serious problems to deal with.

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Deutsch: Audi Autohaus in Dresden

Deutsch: Audi Autohaus in Dresden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Schedule an ELEAD1ONE Demo at NADA 2013 in Orlando – Proud Sponsor of the ADM Professional Community

Schedule an ELEAD1ONE Demo at NADA 2013 in Orlando – Proud Sponsor of the ADM Professional Community

 

Going to NADA 2013? Schedule an ELEAD1ONE Demo Today!

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via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

 

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Dataium Automotive Shopper Intensity Report – January 2013

Dataium Automotive Shopper Intensity Report – January 2013

The automotive marketing research firm Dataium has released their 2013 Automotive Shopper Intensity Report which has become a respected and widely regarded accurate predictor of new vehicle demand in North America.

Each of the charts shown below are posted in the form of a PNG image that I created from the PDF version of the report. You can click on to open a browser window showing the full resolution for viewing and download. I have also included the PDF version of this report excerpt for file download by ADM Professional Community Members at the bottom… The following text, charts and tables are excerpts from the full report, which is available from Dataium for a fee by request. To request complete access to Dataium’s ASI predictive modeling tool on future consumer demand by make, model, trim level, segment, region, and market, contact Dataium at www.dataium.com/contact, or call 877-896-DATA (3282).

 

January 2013 Dataium Automotive Shopper Intensity Report
The Dataium Automotive Shopper Intensity Index (ASI) is a leading indicator of Automotive Retail Sales. We show that Automotive Retail Sales closely mirror the fluctuations of the ASI. This index serves as an early predictor of the next 30 – 45 days of automotive retail sales.

The index was relatively flat in December, up by a mere 0.39%, indicating a slowdown in January. Based on this, Dataium forecasts the US Retail SAAR in January to be 12.2 million retail units.

Eric Brown, CEO of Dataium noted;

“It wasn’t a fiscal cliff but the market did slow.” He added “However, the mitigation is consistent with past holiday incentives and clearance sales hangovers.”

With regards to makes, Toyota continues to outperform both the domestic and import brands alike, with three models: the Camry, Tacoma and Tundra included in the top ten new vehicle ranking for three straight months. However, overall intensity around the brand has gradually declined, with each model dropping a spot or two in the ASI ranking since November.

For a second straight month, shopping intensity for mid-size sedans remained high, with three models within the segment ranking highest in ASI for new vehicles. The report identifies intensifying interest for the Honda Accord, which rose from 9th place in December, to rank highest in new vehicle ASI this month. However, the Accord faces strong competition in the New Year from the Hyundai Sonata, which, for the second month in a row, exhibited one of the largest month over month increases in its segment, and ranked second in ASI for new vehicles.

A notable entry to the top ten ASI new vehicle ranking was the popular compact sedan from Hyundai, the Elantra. For the past two months, the Elantra has outperformed much of the competition in the compact segment in terms of shopping intensity. The ASI report also indicates that despite a slight bump in shopper interest owing to a recent redesign, the Nissan Sentra still trails other compacts within the segment.

Download the PDF version of this Dataium report extract by right-clicking on the following link, then selecting “Save As”: 

Dataium ASI Report January 2013

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

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#whiteparty in #miami can I get a #boom via micah_birkholz

 

 

 

 

 

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TrueCar.com Founder Reinvents Himself After Almost Killing His Company – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

TrueCar.com Founder Reinvents Himself After Almost Killing His Company – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

TrueCar.com Founder Scott Painter Gets A Do-Over After Almost Killing His Company

The ADM Professional Community was at the center of the storm a year ago when the retail auto industry joined together to both critique and reject the public facing TrueCar business model.  Since that time, numerous changes have been made at TrueCar in multiple areas.  I have previously published an article on ADM asking the industry to consider reevaluating TrueCar based on over a dozen significant changes to their business model which have each been designed to benefit car dealers and their customers.

One of the most striking of all changes at TrueCar has been the attitude, demeanor and statements made by Scott Painter relevant to the retail auto industry and car dealers.  I spent over an hour of one on one time in Scott Painter’s office last July and was struck by his candor, willingness to acknowledge the mistakes and miscalculations he had made in the past. 

The following article was recently published by Forbes Magazine and offers some deep insights into the changes that have occurred within TrueCar and rare insights into the changes that have been made on a more personal level by Scott Painter:

Serial entrepreneur Scott Painter, founder of TrueCar.com, has spent much of his career trying to tell auto dealers how to run their business.

Written by Joann Muller, Forbes Staff

Over the past two decades, he has founded 37 companies, many of them auto-related, and has raised over $1.25 billion from investors who share his conviction that buying a car is a painful experience in need of an overhaul.

Few would argue with that assertion. But Painter’s latest attempt to disrupt automotive retailing by sharing transaction data over the Internet stoked enmity among thousands of car dealers, who complained that TrueCar’s marketing tactics had triggered a price war that was driving them out of business. Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the country’s largest dealer group, spoke for many when he blamed TrueCar for creating “a race to the bottom.”

Even Painter now sees that his original business model was unsustainable. “If 10 to 15 percent of cars are sold at a loss, it threatens the survival of the ecosystem,” he said. TrueCar’s business model is based on the simple premise that car pricing will find its own equilibrium in a free market that is transparent. But the system tended to favor car buyers by promoting the lowest price on the block, giving them leverage to go find an even better price. By running roughshod over the interests of its own network of car dealers, whose cooperation is critical to his success, Painter ended up nearly destroying the company he had spent seven years and $126 million building.

“It’s embarrassing,” says a chastened Painter, blaming his own “arrogance” for TrueCar’s near-collapse earlier this year, when one-third of its dealer network jumped ship, car sales plunged and it piled up $40 million in losses.

Now, after enlisting help from auto dealers, manufacturers and other industry leaders, Painter is relaunching TrueCar.com with a more conciliatory approach that he says balances the interests of dealers and consumers. A new dealer council provides ongoing advice, and new management with experience in both auto retailing and manufacturing were brought in to repair fractured relations with the industry.

In a new $8 million national advertising campaign, bricks-and-mortar car dealers are portrayed as TrueCar’s “trusted partners” while the emphasis for consumers is getting a “fair price,” not necessarily the lowest one.

The site still publishes data about recent transactions but it no longer shares what the dealer paid for the car nor does it promote the cheapest price as the benchmark for other dealers to beat. Instead, it gives both network dealers and consumers enough information to strike what it calls “a fair deal” by letting them know what others recently paid for similarly-equipped new cars in their geographic area. Dealers pay $299 for every customer lead that results in a car sale.

Other car-buying websites like Edmunds.com and kbb.com share recent pricing data with consumers, but Painter says TrueCar’s figures are better because it shows actual transactions, rather than an average of recent sales. These transactions are posted on a bell curve, displaying the percentage of sales in four price ranges: below market, great, good, and above market. Both buyers and sellers then have the parameters to agree on a fair price, which Painter says typically settles in the lowest quartile of all transactions (the left side of the bell curve) compared to the lowest 6 percent of transactions before the change.

The ad campaign, which broke this week, marks a new beginning for TrueCar.com, which began in 2007 and grew quickly, doubling revenue every year. Although TrueCar.com is the public-facing business, about 80 percent of the company’s revenue comes from managing car-buying programs behind the scenes for affiliates such as AAA, Consumer Reports, American Express and military credit union USAA.

By the end of 2011, revenues were $76 million, TrueCar.com had turned profitable and, with 5,600 dealers in its network, it was selling 30,000 vehicles a month (2 percent of U.S. sales) through its website and the websites of its affiliates.

But trouble arrived in late 2011 as some dealer groups and regulators began to question the legality of TrueCar.com’s business model, suggesting it was acting as an illegal broker. Fearful of incurring fines, some dealers started bailing out of the TrueCar network. Others were angry about TrueCar’s marketing tactics, including an ad campaign that told buyers how much they could undercut the dealer’s price if they bought their car through TrueCar’s website.

The impact was devastating: the dealer network shrunk by one-third in the first three months of 2012 and vehicles sales through its TrueCar.com network plunged 80 percent, from over 13,000 per month at the end of 2011 to just 2,000 a month in June. Revenues from its core auto-buying programs also fell by one-third. On the precipice of death, Painter obtained an emergency bridge loan from existing investors, which include Capricorn Investment Group, GRP Partners and an affiliate of Guthy-Renker.

Then he spun into disaster control mode. In January he launched a series of meetings with dealers around the country to listen to their concerns. That resulted in creation of a dealer council comprised of 20 members representing 24 states, 35 brands and 281 franchises. In February he hired Pat Watson, a 39-year veteran of the South Carolina Dealers Association to keep the dialogue going. He also hired Larry Dominique, a former Nissan executive, to be a liaison with manufacturers.

To address regulatory concerns, TrueCar also made important changes to the way dealers quote prices on its website. Instead of offering prices relative to “dealer invoice,” they now promote guaranteed savings off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). In a few states, TrueCar had to move to a subscription-based business model instead of the $299-fee system to satisfy regulators. TrueCar also gave dealers powerful analytic tools so they can adjust prices according to changing market conditions to ensure they remain in the competitive “sweet spot” while protecting their profit margins.

The changes are working, says Painter. Dealers are returning. Over the past eight months, TrueCar has replaced more than 1,000 of the dealers it lost earlier in the year, ending the third quarter with 5,200 dealers. Vehicle sales have rebounded too. It’s back to selling 20,000 cars per month through TrueCar.com and the auto-buying program for affiliates is on track for record sales in the fourth quarter.

Remarkably, Painter is forecasting fiscal 2012 sales will be up 15 percent over 2011, and TrueCar.com will be cash flow positive again by the end of December.

Was it all a terrible dream? Sadly, no. It really did happen. But Painter no doubt learned a hard lesson about how difficult it is to force change in the auto industry.

About the Author:

Joann Muller, Forbes Staff

I write about the global auto industry

Source: www.Forbes.com

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Mobile vs PC and why does it matter? – Automotive Professional Community

Mobile vs PC and why does it matter?

Mobile vs PC and why does it matter?

 

As someone who lives on his PC, I have to stretch my imagination every time I hear about the advent of the mobile generation.

I have an iPad and I have my super-duper Galaxy S3 smart phone. I absolutely love them for different reasons.

This got me to thinking about those who say PCs are doomed. And I have to say I disagree. It’s not just that PCs are not doomed, it’s why they are not doomed and what it means for Digital Marketing.

The popularity of mobile, be it tablet or smart phone, is portability and “less vs more”. Portability speaks to itself, so let’s examine “less vs more”.

The average person uses his computer for email, surfing, communicating, socializing, and finding specific things like maps and navigation. They also love games. These things are ideal for mobile and encompass the needs of these people. Therefore, combined with portability, you have the obvious attraction.

However, working on these devices tries one’s patience, unless you travel for your job. It is much easier to work on a PC than any of the alternatives. A PC has so many more software possibilities than a mobile device. It has a keyboard that is practical. And serious work can be done.

I think PCs are here to stay for some time.

What does that mean to marketers? Consider the times that many people contact dealers. It is usually lunchtime. Many of them are using their PCs and dead time at work to do so. It’s not just that they can’t do it at home. It’s that they plan that time for personal things to do that they don’t have time to do at home. I know because I do it too. And I’m a consumer. I often say to my wife in the evening, “I’ll try to do that on my lunch break tomorrow”.

Are their any implications I’m missing? Does it matter? I’m looking for opinions. What do you think?

 

Replies to This ADM Discussion:

  Tom, I posted a blog yesterday about the new 2012 J.D. Power AutoShopper car buyer behavior study and the big news was that 20% of the people who buy new vehicles in 2012 use a “mobile” device to access web based information related to their vehicle shopping activities… That’s right, 20%.  Keep in mind that the 20% number INCLUDES iPADS AND TABLETS.

So, as fast as the use of mobile devices is growing, it is in no danger of toppling full size laptops and desktop PC’s any time soon as far as becoming the majority of devices used by car buyers during the shopping process. With that said, we are fast approaching the moment in time when people use their mobile devices more frequently for accessing the web than full sized PC’s… What does that mean?

Well, from what I can see there is a distinct tendency to shop for vehicles and related information using full sized devices. Another significant piece of data is the predominant use of mobile devices to check information by car buyers WHILE THEY ARE PHYSICALLY VISITING DEALERSHIPS.  So the implications are clear and I am not the first automotive marketing professional to point out that we must now design our web based assets to work across a wide variety of different sized screens and browser formats…

Get used to it.  If your web sites and assets do not work properly across ALL OF THE ABOVE, including full sized PC’s with big monitors, cell phones and tablet devices, you are leaving money on the table in regards to your digital marketing strategy.

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J.D. Power 2012 AutoShopper Study Shows Car Buyers Using Mobile Devices At Increasing Rates

J.D. Power 2012 AutoShopper Study Shows Car Buyers Using Mobile Devices At Increasing Rates

 

2012 New Autoshopper Study Shows Continued Evolution of Car Buyers Using Web Access Devices

J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
Although the Majority of Automotive Buyers Continue to Use Personal Computers to Shop for New Vehicles, Tablets and Smartphones Are Used by One in Five Digital Auto Buyers

Nearly 60 Percent of Buyers Narrow Their Decision to One Model during the Final Week before Buying

October 2012 –Influenced by the phenomenal growth of mobile devices to access the Internet, tablets and smartphones are being used by one in five new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet in the automotive shopping process, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 New Autoshopper StudySM released today.

The study analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices (computers, smartphones and tablets) and which websites and apps are used to gather information prior to purchase. Overall, 79 percent of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet (also referred to as Automotive Internet Users, or AIUs) to research their vehicle purchase.

While nearly all (99%) AIUs use a desktop/laptop computer at some point in their shopping process, nearly 30 percent use multiple devices, including desktops, smartphones and/or tablets. The study finds that 20 percent of AIUs use a smartphone to gather information while shopping for a new vehicle, and 18 percent use a tablet.

“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 Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power and Associates. “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 majority of shopping among AIUs still occurs at home. However, tablets are not as mobile as they may seem. Most AIUs who use a tablet for shopping do so at home, while those who use a smartphone are more likely than tablet users to do so outside of the home, as smartphones are always within reach.

Among AIUs who use a smartphone, 59 percent do so at the dealership, accessing vehicle pricing, model and inventory information, as well as comparing vehicles.

“This interplay between the dealership experience and digital information has become more intertwined with the availability of shopping content on mobile devices,” said Walker. “Now that buyers can easily access information right from their pockets, it is essential that the dealer body is as well versed as the shoppers in order to provide consistent information both online and in the dealership.”

The study finds that buyers go online nearly as soon as they decide to buy a new vehicle, and 59 percent of AIUs narrow their consideration list to one model during the final week before the actual purchase. With such a high volume of buyers deciding on the model of purchase so close to the actual time of the sale, the digital experience and dealer interaction are more important than ever. 

The vast majority (98%) of AIUs visit manufacturer websites during their shopping process, followed by third-party websites (81%); dealer websites (73%); and social media sites (5%). AIUs rely heavily on manufacturer websites for researching specific models and utilizing build tools, while they more frequently rely on third-party sites for comparing vehicles; reading vehicle ratings and reviews; and learning about vehicle trade-in values. AIUs use dealer sites primarily for inventory and dealer-specific information, such as directions/location, hours and contact information.

“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 Walker. “Manufacturers and automotive third-party sites need to think about synchronization across their properties in order to help provide consistency throughout the automotive shopping experience for their target audience.”

Digital automotive research continues to have the most impact on brand and model selection, followed by price, which is relatively unchanged from four years ago.  As a result of having product information accessible through websites and apps, new-vehicle buyers have more tools to help define their consideration set.

Although mobile apps are still used by a minority of AIUs, the same shopping tools are being used across the two types of digital properties, albeit at different rates. 

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 the shopping process.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction.  The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. 

For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial’s leading brands include Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

Media Relations Contacts:
John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.;

(248) 680-6218; media.relations@jdpa.com

Syvetril Perryman; J.D. Power and Associates; Westlake Village, Calif.;

(805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

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