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2013 New Autoshopper Study Results

2013 New Autoshopper Study Results

By Jeff Youngs, September 11, 2013
The just-published J.D. Power 2013 New Autoshopper StudySM finds that half of all new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet in their shopping process consider themselves open to buying any make of vehicle when they begin that process. This figure is slightly higher (54%) for Generation Y consumers (born 1977 - 1994). This suggests a shift away from the common belief that most vehicle owners affiliate themselves with a certain make, more or less permanently.

The study analyzes how Automotive Internet Users (AIUs) use digital devices (computers, smartphones, and tablets) to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps are used. Overall, 79% of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet to research their new vehicle purchase during the shopping process. Nearly half (47%) of Generation Y AIUs use smartphones in their process--more than any other demographic.

"It is important for brands and websites to pay special attention to Gen Y buyers, as they are increasing in market share at the greatest rate among all new-vehicle buyers and now comprise more than 20% of all retail sales. Automotive manufacturers have a great opportunity to influence these buyers during their shopping process, particularly since so many of them begin the process fairly open minded," said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. "Additionally, the digital presence of the brand through mobile advertising and content across mobile-accessible sites and apps may be a great way to reach Gen Y buyers, since we see almost half use a smartphone during the shopping process."

Although AIUs continue to use a desktop/laptop computer most often to gather information while shopping, tablet and smartphone usage have dramatically increased year over year (by 39% and 15%, respectively). For the first time, the percentage of AIUs using tablets has surpassed those using smartphones (25% and 23%, respectively). More than one-third (34%) of AIUs perform research using multiple devices, including desktop/laptops, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles.

The study finds that almost all AIUs (98%) visit manufacturer sites during their shopping process; 83% visit dealer sites; and 80% visit third-party sites. Only a few (7%) involve social media sites in their shopping process. AIUs more frequently indicate that third-party (54%) and manufacturer (52%) websites are "very helpful" during the new-vehicle shopping process. Dealer and social media sites/apps command smaller percentages of "very helpful" assessments.

"As automotive Internet users continue to rely heavily on automotive manufacturer and third-party websites, an opportunity is created for sites to differentiate themselves further by providing engaging content and useful shopping tools that target consumers at each stage of the shopping process," said Walker.

The study finds that Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book ( are among the most frequently visited third-party websites, with AIUs visiting these sites more often than the other 33 third-party websites measured in the study. Additionally, AIUs indicate that the model pricing information, vehicle ratings and reviews, and vehicle comparison information are among the most useful third-party website content when making a purchase decision.

J.D. Power research finds the following Internet shopping behaviors among AIUs:
  • On average, the entire vehicle-shopping process takes approximately four months for AIUs.
  • On average, AIUs access 10 automotive websites before purchasing a vehicle (including third-party, dealer and manufacturer sites).
  • 90% or more of AIUs seek out model information and vehicle pricing. However, only 19% of AIUs access dealer ratings/reviews prior to purchase.

Consumer Tips
Based on the 2013 New Autoshopper Study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips for a satisfying online auto shopping experience:

  • Manufacturer websites tend to offer the most comprehensive information on model availability and pricing.
  • Local dealer websites sometime offer special deals on new vehicles, as well as used or Certified Pre-Owned vehicles.
  • Third-party websites offer impartial comparisons of various vehicle makes, as well as in-depth reviews and discussions.
  • Social media provide informal, anecdotal information about various vehicle makes, including comparisons and recommendations.

About the Study
The 2013 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 17,012 purchasers and lessees of 2011 to 2013 model-year new vehicles who used information gathered digitally during the shopping process.

Additional Research:

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