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2014 New Autoshopper Study Results

2014 New Autoshopper Study Results

By Jeff Youngs, September 10, 2014

The just-published J.D. Power 2014 New Autoshopper StudySM finds that new-vehicle buyers who spend the most time on the Internet shopping for a vehicle also visit the most dealerships to shop prior to purchase.

The study analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices (computers, smartphones, and tablets) to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps they use during the shopping process. The study refers to new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet during their shopping process as automotive Internet users (AIUs).

On average, AIUs spend nearly 14 hours on the Internet shopping for a vehicle prior to purchase. Those who spend 12 hours or more on the Internet visit an average of 3.3 dealers before making a decision. AIUs who spend a moderate amount of time shopping on the Internet (5 to 11 hours), visit an average of 2.5 dealers prior to purchase; those who spend less time on the Internet visit an average of 2.0 dealers.

"There may be a notion in the marketplace that the more auto shoppers use the Internet to determine which vehicle to buy, the fewer dealers they are inclined to shop, yet we see just the opposite," said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. "New-vehicle buyers who do a great deal of automotive Internet shopping also go to more dealerships to shop."

Key Findings
An overwhelming majority (96%) of AIUs use their desktop/laptop computer for automotive research. Thirty percent of AIUs employ a tablet device--up from 25% in last year's study--and 28% use a smartphone to conduct their research, an increase from 23% in 2013.

Nearly 80% of AIUs visit a third-party website to obtain automotive information. Users of third-party sites indicate that vehicle pricing and vehicle ratings and reviews are the most useful information found on these websites.

Additionally, a majority of AIUs visit at least one manufacturer brand website when shopping for a vehicle. They indicate that brand sites are most useful for their model information, vehicle configurators, and photo galleries.

Shoppers Combine Physical, Cyber Visits
The practice of using a personal device while actually at a dealership has gained popularity, as 34% of AIUs indicate using either a smartphone or tablet while shopping at dealerships, up from 29% in 2013. Vehicle pricing is the information most frequently accessed on a personal device at dealerships (61%), followed by model information (42%), searching inventory (40%), and special offers/incentives (36%). Among AIUs who use a mobile device to access vehicle pricing information at their dealership of purchase, 84% leverage the information in the negotiation process, with 73% saying they obtained a better deal as a result.

According to Walker, "The phenomenon of 'showrooming' at new-vehicle dealerships, where potential buyers use their mobile devices to verify information and price shop while at the dealership, will continue to grow. Shoppers are gathering information digitally up to the moment the deal is signed, which underscores the need for ensuring mobile websites and apps have up-to-date and accurate information. Dealers need to accept and embrace this practice as the new status quo and provide complete transparency with price, value, and product offering in order to build trust with these savvy new-vehicle shoppers. If not, dealers could lose these customers to the competition."

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
  • Shop as many manufacturer websites as possible. Use the "design and build" feature to get an idea of what you can get in a specific vehicle, as well as what you can expect to pay.
  • Visit third-party websites to compare and contrast expert opinions and information on various makes and models, as well as owner reviews.
  • As you shop at a dealership, use your personal device to answer questions that might arise and to compare the vehicles you're viewing to those of other manufacturers.
  • When negotiating a purchase, refer to pricing and feature information on your personal device to help both you and the dealer work out the best possible package.

About The Study
The 2014 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from more than 15,300 purchasers and lessees of new 2012 to 2014 model-year vehicles who used information gathered digitally during the shopping process. The study was fielded between February 25, 2014 and July 9, 2014.

Additional Research:

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