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2015 New Autoshopper Study: Mobile Devices Gain Importance in Vehicle Shopping Process

2015 New Autoshopper Study: Mobile Devices Gain Importance in Vehicle Shopping Process

By Joseph Dobrian, September 14, 2015

Mobile devices are becoming an ever-more-important component of the vehicle purchasing process, according to the recently released J.D. Power 2015 New Autoshopper Study.SM The study finds that 51% of new-vehicle Internet shoppers use a mobile device—tablet or smartphone—to conduct research to help them find the vehicle they want at the best price.

The study analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices—tablets, smartphones, and computers—to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps they use during the shopping process. The study also examines what content new-vehicle buyers access during their shopping process and which content they find most useful.

Since 2012, the use of tablets to shop for a vehicle has increased by 83% and use of smartphones has increased by 70%. Just over a third—34%—of new-vehicle shoppers use a smartphone for automotive research and 33% use a tablet. The manner in which new-vehicle shoppers locate the actual vehicle they seek is also going digital. Nearly one-third (30%) of new-vehicle shoppers find the vehicle they purchase on either a manufacturer website, third-party website, or their dealer’s website.

“Outside of the home, the location where new-vehicle shoppers most frequently use their smartphone to conduct auto research prior to purchase is at a dealership,” said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. “Nearly half—48%—of new-vehicle buyers that shop on a mobile device use their smartphone, and 13% use a tablet for information gathering while at the dealership: primarily to access vehicle pricing as well as model information, inventory searches, and special offers and incentives.”

While a majority of shoppers make their initial contact by simply walking into a dealership, nearly one-fourth (24%) initiate contact digitally—by email, through the dealer website, by requesting an online quote, or texting, or by visiting an online forum or Facebook.

More of these new-vehicle shoppers are entering the process with a specific make or model in mind. Nearly half (49%) of new-vehicle shoppers know either the exact make or model they want going into the shopping process and purchase it. This is up from 43% in 2013. Consequently, the study finds that digital shoppers in 2015 consider an average of 2.4 vehicles, compared with 2.6 vehicles in 2013.

More than nine in 10 new-vehicle Internet shoppers visit at least one manufacturer brand website when shopping for a vehicle. Site visitors find manufacturer brand websites to be most useful for their model information and vehicle configurators. While 83% of new-vehicle Internet shoppers visit at least one dealership website, 75% visit their selling dealership’s website. Eight in 10 new-vehicle Internet shoppers visit a third-party site for automotive information.

The three most frequently visited third-party sites have remained consistent since 2012: in alphabetical order, they are Consumer Reports,, and Kelley Blue Book. Among the 35 third-party sites measured in the study, TrueCar has experienced the largest increase in site visitation. Compared with other automotive sites, third-party sites are found to be especially useful for vehicle comparisons and vehicle ratings/reviews.

Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
  • To make the overall vehicle shopping experience more efficient, visit manufacturer websites to narrow down your list of possible purchases.
  • Visit individual dealer websites to look for special deals on the makes and models that interest you.
  • Take advantage of the availability of multiple vehicle reviews on the web, early in the shopping process.

About the Study
The 2015 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from more than 18,900 purchasers and lessees of new 2013 to 2015 model-year vehicles who used information gathered digitally during the shopping process. The study was fielded between February 6, 2015, and July 7, 2015.

Additional Research:

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