22 Million Americans Included the Internet in Their Vehicle Shopping Process Last Year

BY Rachel Cagle
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"Thanks to the internet, researching a car has never been easier. What used to take days traveling from dealer to dealer now takes minutes as potential purchasers cruise websites and forums to view details on new models, check dealer inventory and pricing, read reviews and even negotiate entire transactions."

"According to Nielsen Scarborough, almost 22 million Americans took to the web during the past 12 months to research and shop for a vehicle. For automotive manufacturers and dealers, a strong digital strategy is no longer a 'nice to have.' Now, it’s a necessity. To create that strategy, they must understand the online auto researcher audience and create content that will engage them. To get a glimpse under the hood, Scarborough examined the demographics and behaviors of online auto researchers, adults 18 and older who meet two key criteria: they say they research and compare as many vehicles as possible before making a final purchase decision and they say they’ve shopped for a vehicle on the internet in the past 12 months."

"What is the makeup of an online auto researchers? Generationally, they cover the spectrum: 34% are millennials, 29% are Gen Xers, 27% are Baby Boomers. They’re 27% more likely to be male and have household incomes that are $17,000 higher than the average U.S. adult. Online auto researchers are a lucrative consumer group. They plan to spend $4,700 more than the average adult on their next vehicle purchase, and almost one-​third (30%) have purchased a vehicle on the internet during the past 12 months."

New Car/​Truck Shoppers as a whole are 23.7% made up of consumers ages 25 to 34, 21.3% of consumers ages 35 to 44, 16.8% of consumers are 55 to 64, 16.6% of consumers ages 45 to 54, 12.4% of consumers ares 65 and older and 9.2% of consumers ages 17 to 24, according to AudienceSCAN. Additionally, they're 68% more likely than other adults to have an annual household income of $150,000 and above.

"Knowing the makeup of this group is a start, but developing digital content to engage and motivate them to purchase is where the rubber hits the road. To start, engage researchers with content about technology and the environment. Three-​quarters (73%) agree they look forward to technological advances in new vehicles. They already have and expect features like backup cameras, GPS, Blu-​ray players, satellite radio, subscription safety services and wireless access. Additionally, half consider themselves more environmentally conscious than most, and they’re 41% more likely than the average adult to own or lease a hybrid vehicle."

"When it comes to motivating these consumers, feature the types of vehicles they prefer and the perks that come with them. Online auto researchers are 18% more likely to plan to purchase a new Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), 58% more likely to own a foreign luxury vehicle and 34% more likely to own a domestic and/​or foreign subcompact car. Synchronizing dealership and manufacturer offerings will reap benefits, as online auto researchers use both manufacturer and dealership sites/​apps to gather information (29% say they use dealership sites/​apps; 22% say they use manufacturer sites/​apps). Dealership messaging should stress selection of vehicles, price/​value, financing and warranties."

According to AudienceSCAN, 46.6% of New Car/​Truck Shoppers have used search engines within the past month to research a product they considered buying. Additionally, in the past six months 45% of these shoppers have used a mobile device to make an online purchase, and 29.6% have also used mobile to view a store or retailer's website.

How should vehicles be advertised to New Car/​Truck Shoppers? The best place to reach these shoppers is via the TV, according to AudienceSCAN. About 71.7% of these shoppers took action after seeing a TV ad within the past year. However, they're also 51% more likely than other adults to take action after seeing ads at a movie theater and 45% more likely to react to both outdoor ads/​billboards and pre-​roll video ads.

"Knowledge is power, engagement is king. Convert online auto researchers into buyers by engaging them with content that speaks to their automotive needs and preferences."

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.