Contrary to the growing belief that social media will soon replace traditional automotive dealerships, a recentMaritz Research New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS), revealed that the salesperson at the dealership is still the most influential source of information for car buyers. In fact, salespeople were ranked significantly higher in 2011 than in the past five years.
The NVCS, which is the largest automotive study in North America, asked customers what sources of information they found most influential in their buying decisions. The top ten sources in the U.S. were as follows:
1. Salesperson at the dealership (21.9%)
2. Family/ friend/ word of mouth (18.7%)
3. Consumer guides (18.4%)
4. Dealer’s/ manufacturer’s websites (8.6%)
5. Third-party websites (6.4%)
6. Automotive magazine reviews (6.1%)
7. TV advertisements (4.0%)
8. Dealer’s/ manufacturer’s brochures (3.2%)
9. Dealer/Manufacturer-sponsored event (2.4%)
10. Newspaper advertisements (1.7%)
“People buy from people,” saidChris Travell, vice president and strategic consultant for Maritz Research. “Social media can certainly support the selling effort, but I believe it would be a mistake to believe that social media will usurp it.”
Recommendations from family, friends and word of mouth were also ranked statistically higher than in past years, while consumer guides such as Consumer Reports still remain the third most influential source of information.
NEW VEHICLE CUSTOMER STUDY
“What our family and friends say or recommend to us is important,” Travell added. “Every manufacturer needs to have a well-defined social media strategy. However, we still need to remember the importance of human interaction in buying a car.”[Source: "New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS)." Maritz Research. 30 May 2012. Web. 1 Jun. 2012.]