New Study Reveals How the Internet and Social Media Work Together to Sell Cars and Trucks

Foresight Research recently introduced its proprietary "2010: Automotive Marketing Return On Investment" study. As part of that study, a detailed examination of the influence of the internet and social media on automotive purchase decisions was conducted and returned interesting results. 

In 2009, 86% of all new vehicle buyers used the internet in their new vehicle purchase process. Of this group, 90% used the internet to compare vehicles and pricing, while 83% checked it for incentives.

Of note, nearly 13% of all new buyers used some form of social networking to share information on their purchase decision. Social networking was virtually non-​existent as an influencer in previous years. For young buyers under the age of 35, nearly a quarter (24%) used social networking to share their decision.

"What we are seeing is the profound and rapidly growing effect of peer-​to-​peer communication on social networking sites and the dramatic influence they're having on vehicle decision making," said Steve Bruyn, President of Foresight Research.

"What's interesting is that the information and advice given on social networking sites typically comes from automotive 'shouters' — that thin slice of the population that is most acutely familiar with the latest vehicle models, offerings and options — these are the people that influence other folks automotive purchases. In our complete Marketing ROI study, we have specific information related to how these shouters obtain and digest information. These shouters, in turn, have the greatest influence on the broader population. In a sense, we're suggesting that internet word-​of-​mouth can in fact be directed. Implemented correctly, this could be an automotive marketing holy grail," concluded Bruyn.

To demonstrate this point, Bruyn noted that among the most influential car buyers, 29% offered vehicle recommendations on social networking sites and 93% used the internet.

"The influence of the internet on vehicle shopping habits isn't new news," said Bruyn. "But what is interesting is our ability to track how the influential information is first created and later consumed. Understanding this process gives automotive marketers the opportunity to have a louder voice in the upstream dialogue where it can have the biggest impact."

Foresight's complete research study offers more detailed and intricate views of the data, including by brand and by major metro areas. All those interviewed were actual car buyers who had made their purchase an average of six months prior to the interview.

[Source:  "2010: Automotive Marketing Return On Investment."  Foresight Research. 18 Jun. 2010.  Web.  7 Jul. 2010.]