COSTA MESA, Calif.: 21 July 2016 — Use of online shopping tools on auto manufacturer websites can significantly improve satisfaction among consumers who are shopping for a new vehicle, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation StudySM—Summer, released today.
The semiannual study, now in its 17th year, measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content, appearance, speed and navigation. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale. Overall customer satisfaction with auto manufacturer websites is 807 points.
Nearly all new-vehicle buyers spend time on manufacturer websites, and, according to the study, consumer satisfaction with those websites is driven mostly by the quality of the content. More than half (57%) of shoppers who are delighted with their website experience (overall satisfaction scores of 901 and above) indicate they are more likely to test drive a vehicle after visiting the site. In comparison, only 16% of those who are disappointed with their experience (scores of 500 or below) indicate they’re more likely to test drive a vehicle.
“The content on manufacturer websites must embody three key attributes: It must be easy to access. It must provide sufficient detail to answer shoppers’ questions. And it must help tell the brand story,” said Arianne Walker, senior director of marketing analytics at J.D. Power. “There’s a direct connection between manufacturers that utilize their digital showroom effectively and satisfied shoppers who then become buyers.”
Not only do manufacturers need to be mindful of the kind of content that shoppers are using, but they also need to continually monitor and improve that content to keep up with shoppers’ changing expectations and needs. A number of specific shopping tools positively affect satisfaction with manufacturers’ websites, including use of the configurator; compare tool; exterior 360 view; interior 360 view; offers/incentives; and payment calculator. Many of these tools also are positively correlated with vehicle purchase, according to the J.D. Power Online-to-Offline (O2O®) analytics benchmarks.
“Gen Y shoppers—soon to be the largest group of new-vehicle shoppers—use these tools at higher rates than Boomers, signifying that manufacturers must continue to invest in and improve website tools in response to shifts in the car-buying population,” Walker said.
Following are some key findings of the 2016 summer study:
- Positive Experience Drives Improved Brand Image Perception: The study finds that, through pre/post brand perception measurements, 40% of shoppers have an improved impression of the brand after their website experience. A positive website experience helps drive key brand qualities. Even shoppers’ perceptions that are difficult to change, such as reputation and reliability, improve after they experience a brand’s website.
- Gen Y Shoppers Like It More: These shoppers tend to show a more positive perception of a brand after the website visit compared with Boomers.
- Ranking the Three Highest-Performing Sites: Land Rover (834) ranks highest in overall manufacturer website satisfaction, followed by Jaguar (833) and Mercedes-Benz (831).
The 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study—Summer is based on responses from more than 9,500 new-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded May 3-17, 2016.
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 J.D. Power defines Gen Y as those born from 1977-1994 and Boomers as those born from 1946-1964.