Online Auto Shoppers: Who Are They and How Do You Meet Their Needs?

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While the Internet has not replaced the dealer franchise system, it has changed the way consumers shop for new and used vehicles. This paper explores how the Internet has affected the vehicle-shopping process from the consumer's point of view by identifying the similarities and differences in the shopping behavior of four groups of new-vehicle shoppers: Non-AIUs (those who didn't use the Internet in their vehicle shopping process); AIUs (those who used the Internet in their vehicle shopping process); Submitters (those who sent an online request for information to a dealer); and OSBs (online submit buyers, or those who purchased from a dealer who responded to their online request).

While the rate of automotive Internet users has increased dramatically during the past 10 years, the rate of growth has slowed more recently, increasing by only 1 or 2 percentage points per year for 2 years.