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2012 New Autoshopper Study Results

2012 New Autoshopper Study Results

By Jeff Youngs, October 04, 2012
Nearly four in five U.S. new-vehicle buyers--79%--now use the Internet to gather automotive information prior to purchase, according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 New Autoshopper Study.SM

The study analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices (computers, smartphones and tablets) and which Web sites and applications they use to gather information prior to purchase. The study refers to Automotive Internet Users, or AIUs, to describe consumers who use the Internet to research their vehicle purchase. Nearly all (99%) of AIUs use a desktop/laptop computer at some point in their shopping process. Slightly less than one-third (30%) of AIUs use multiple devices, including desktops, smartphones, and/or tablets.

"Access to new-vehicle information through the Internet and apps 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 Web sites to provide consistency across their sites and apps--and no matter what device is being used to access the information, the shopping experience should be equally usable and the shopping information equally complete."

The study shows that AIUs do most of their Internet vehicle shopping at home. However, among AIUs who use a smartphone, 59% do so at the dealership, comparing vehicles as well as accessing vehicle pricing, other information about the model, and inventory information.

"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 AIUs go online nearly as soon as they decide to buy a new vehicle, and 59% of them narrow their consideration list to one model during the final week before the actual purchase.

Almost all (98%) of AIUs visit manufacturer Web sites during their shopping process, followed by third-party Web sites (81%), dealer Web sites (73%), and social media sites (5%). AIUs rely heavily on manufacturer Web sites for researching specific models, and to custom build their prospective vehicles. But 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.

Based on the findings of the study, J.D. Power and Associates offers the following tips for Internet-based vehicle shopping:

  • Thoroughly compare the different manufacturer product offerings. Don't insist on loyalty to a particular brand unless it's really the best choice.
  • Look for testimonials to, and criticisms of, various models, on independent Web sites, including
  • Stay focused: look at various makes and models within your price range that meet your needs, and that are on your wish list.
  • Look for customer comments about specific dealerships.

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.

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