Digital Drives Vehicle Shopping

Auto dealers encounter savvy customers every day. These folks have been researching online to determine the brand and newcarownermodel of vehicle they’re interested in before they get to the dealership. Google’s new report, done in partnership with Millward Brown, shows the typical vehicle shopper’s path to purchase and reveals that numerous digital opportunities exist for dealers  to influence customers long before they step through the door.

The typical vehicle shopper spends up to 3 months on pre-​purchase research. During that time, they are engaging with auto marketers through at least 24 different touch points. These touch points involve an average of 8 different digital sources. The top digital sources include:

  • Dealer sites 83%
  • Manufacturer sites 81%
  • Search engines 77%
  • Third party sites 69%

Digital also competes with traditional media. In this channel, TV is dominant with 53% of consumers citing these ads as influential. Other traditional media breaks out as follows in terms of influence:

  • Newspapers 38%
  • Magazines 25%
  • Flyers/​Brochures 27%
  • Radio 19%

Analysts point out that mobile and video are the 2 growth channels for online automotive research. During research, mobile involves reading vehicle descriptions (36%) or looking at consumer generated reviews (34%). At the purchase stage, mobile becomes a tool to check pricing (42%) and look up dealer address or hours (36%).  Video is driving both brand introduction (57%) and education about specific features (74%).

Despite all of the research, 35% of consumers say that their previous ownership experience with a brand is key to future purchases. Dealers should also pay attention  to their service levels. For 62% of vehicle purchasers, service is important as is communication from a dealer throughout an ownership period for 52% of consumers.

To learn more about new vehicle shoppers for any major brand, check out the AudienceSCAN reports available on the Research Store at ad​-ology​.com.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.