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R. L. Polk-Autotrader Role Of The Internet In New & Used Vehicle Purchase Process


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The Role of the Internet in the New and Used Vehicle Purchase Process

The Internet has become an increasingly important component of the vehicle purchase process. That’s why Polk recently teamed up with to conduct a study of recent buyers of new and used vehicles.

The results of the study provide fascinating insights into the role, influence and perceived usefulness of automotive websites in the vehicle purchase process, including:

How the Internet compares to other information sources in terms of usage and influence
Which sites (dealer, manufacturer, third-party) are most used during the shopping process
The type of information that consumers expect to find online

Get the details about how consumers shopping for vehicles use the web by downloading our latest Polk View

Published in: Automotive, Business
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R. L. Polk-Autotrader Role Of The Internet In New & Used Vehicle Purchase Process

  1. 1. www.polk.comPolkViewFEBRUARY 2011BRUCE GIFFINCorporate Market Research Manager The Role of the Internet in the New and Vehicle Purchase ProcessJOE RICHARDSSr. Manager of Research The Internet has become an increasingly important In addition to being the most influential, the Internet component of the vehicle purchase process. Consum- also seen as the most helpful information source. Two- ers shopping for new and used vehicles can find a thirds of consumers rated the Internet as “extremely wealth of information and tools on auto manufacturer, helpful” (score of “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale). dealer and third-party websites. In comparison, only about one-half of used and new vehicle shoppers rated a referral from a friend or family How much time do consumers spend online during as extremely helpful and other sources (e.g., TV, radio, the vehicle purchase process? How does the Internet direct mail) scored much lower. compare to other channels in terms of influencing“ purchase? Why do shoppers use the Internet? This study also revealed an interesting finding regard- Half of new vehicle ing the influence of social media sites: 97 percent of To answer these and related questions, Polk and buyers who used the Internet to shop indicated that buyers and 58 percent recently teamed up to conduct a social media did not influence their vehicle purchase. study of recent car buyers: 4,005 U.S. consumers who of used vehicle buyers had purchased a new or used vehicle from a dealer- said that the web was ship within the prior six months. The findings provide More Time Spent on Third-Party Sites than on insights into the role, usage and perceived helpfulness OEM, Dealer Sites the most influential of the Internet in the vehicle purchase process. For the first time, this research quantifies the length of information source the vehicle shopping process for consumers who use the web as part of the process. Used car buyers spend in their purchase Internet is Most Used and Influential Media about 18 total hours, while new car buyers spend decision. ” For all vehicle buyers, the Internet is undoubtedly the roughly 19 hours shopping for a new car or truck. For most heavily used and the most influential channel. both groups, roughly 60 percent of that time is online, Today, seventy-one percent of consumers use the with the remainder spent visiting dealerships and Internet while shopping for new and used vehicles, engaging in other offline activities. more than double the usage of any other information source. More importantly, the majority of buyers said Of the time online, consumers shopping for both new the Internet was the most influential source leading to and used vehicles spend more time on third-party sites their purchase decision. (See Figure 1). than on dealer or manufacturer sites: 7 hours for used vehicle buyers and 3.5 hours for new vehicle buyers. Both types of shoppers also visit dealer and automo- Figure 1: Most Influential Sources Leading to Vehicle Purchase tive manufacturer websites; however, new vehicle buyers distribute their time more evenly across third- party, OEM and dealer websites. Given that 60 percent of the time spent shopping for a Q: Which media, if any, led you to the car takes place on the web, it is critical for websites to dealer you purchased from? provide consumers with relevant content, information and tools to support their decision-making process. This is particularly important given the multitude of resources that the Internet makes available. Search engines are also commonly used during the vehicle shopping process, with Google being by far the most prevalent. New and used vehicle buyers primarily use search to access a dealer website, to find a dealer’s address or phone number or to access an automotive manufacturer’s site. About half of buyers who visited a dealer site arrived at the site via search. This indicates that shoppers use search engines as a convenient way of looking up a dealer after that dealer has become a part of their consideration set. continued *TV, radio, direct mail, magazine, outdoor ads, and write-in answers NOTE: Based on the 71 percent of new and used car shoppers who used the Internet to shop for their vehicle. © 2011 R. L. Polk & Co. All rights reserved. R. L. Polk & Co. makes no representations or warranties with respect to the contents hereof and specifi- cally disclaims all implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. R. L. Polk & Co. reserves the right to make changes to this report without notice or obligation. Polk is a registered trademark of R. L. Polk & Co. 1
  2. 2. www.polk.comPolkViewFEBRUARY 2011“ Seven of the 11 hours spent researching used vehicles occurs Despite Heavy Internet Usage, Initial Contact with Dealer Occurs Offline According to the research, 67 percent of used vehicle buyers and 69 percent of new vehicle purchasers establish initial contact with the dealer by walking into • Develop Internet strategies that deliver upon shop- per needs: We all recognize the influence of the Internet during the shopping process. The implica- tions to dealers and automotive manufacturers are clear: leverage the Internet to influence a shopper’s ” on third-party sites. the dealership. Given that the majority of buyers do consideration set and create visibility for your brand. not email or call the dealer in advance of their initial Give shoppers what they want (detailed vehicle visit, it’s important for dealers to look beyond the information, accurate pricing, relevant content, abil- number of phone calls and emails they receive to ity to compare vehicles) and promote your inventory assess the true value of their advertising. and brand throughout the entire shopping process.About the Automotive BuyingInfluence Study • Make sure your SEO and marketing strategies areThe study contains findings from 4,005 The Internet Delivers Pricing Information and solid: Most shoppers use search to locate dealerU.S. respondents who purchased a new or Ability to Compare and OEM sites. In many cases, they also use searchused vehicle from a dealer. The study wasconducted in September and October of 2010. To invest wisely in their online presence, it’s impor- as a Yellow Page-like service to locate the dealerOur research focused on U.S. vehicle buyers tant that dealers, manufacturers and third-party sites phone number and/or address. It is therefore criticalwho purchased in the prior three months, but that dealers and OEMs effectively employ Searchallowed participation of those who purchased understand how and why consumers use the Internetin the prior six months. Quotas were set to during the vehicle shopping process. About 45 percent Engine Optimization strategies to drive customersensure a representative sample based on the to their sites. To make it easier for shoppers to findvehicle make purchased. of new and used vehicle buyers use the Internet to research vehicle pricing and to compare models across them, dealerships should also effectively market different makes. The ability to obtain information on themselves on third-party websites. special offers, dealer rebates and incentives was more • Determine what drives walk-in traffic: Seven out important to new vehicle buyers (42 percent) than to of 10 shoppers don’t establish contact with the used vehicle buyers (28 percent). (See Figure 2) dealership prior to visiting it, indicating that dealers need to look beyond the number of phone calls and Implications of the Automotive Buying emails they receive and establish methods to assess Influence Study which advertising sources were most influential in driving buyers into their dealerships.ABOUT AUTOTRADER.COM The Polk/ Automotive Buying InfluenceAtlanta-based, created in Study has a number of implications for dealers and1997, is the Internet’s ultimate automotive auto manufacturers:marketplace and consumer informationwebsite. aggregates in asingle location millions of new cars, used carsand certified pre-owned cars from thousandsof auto dealers and private sellers and is aleading online resource for auto dealers,individuals and manufacturers to advertise Figure 2: Why New and Used Vehicle Shoppers Use the Internetand market their vehicles to in-marketshoppers. The company also provides arobust suite of software tools for dealers andmanufacturers to help them manage andmarket their vehicle inventory and displayadvertising on the Internet. AutoTrader.comalso owns used vehicle management softwarecompanies vAuto, HomeNet Automotive andKelley Blue Book.ABOUT POLKPolk is the premier provider of automotiveinformation and marketing solutions. Polkcollects and interprets global data, andprovides extensive automotive businessexpertise to help customers understandtheir market position, identify trends, buildbrand loyalty, conquest new business andgain a competitive advantage. Polk helpsautomotive manufacturers and dealers,automotive aftermarket companies, financeand insurance companies, advertisingagencies, media companies, consultingorganizations, government agenciesand market research firms make goodbusiness decisions. A privately held globalfirm, Polk is based in Southfield, MI withoperations in Australia, Canada, China,France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the UnitedKingdom and the United States. For moreinformation, please visit © 2011 R. L. Polk & Co. All rights reserved. R. L. Polk & Co. makes no representations or warranties with respect to the contents hereof and specifi- cally disclaims all implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. R. L. Polk & Co. reserves the right to make changes to this report without notice or obligation. Polk is a registered trademark of R. L. Polk & Co. 2