A new survey sheds light on the consumer vehicle-shopping and purchasing process.
The online survey of adults who had purchased or leased a vehicle in the previous 12 months was conducted by Zogby International for Chrome Systems Inc., a subsidiary of DealerTrack Inc.
Among key findings were:
86% of the respondents researched their new vehicle online before purchasing or leasing. They chose to shop online because it is convenient (73%), saves time (60%), obviates the pressure of talking to a sales person (58%), and helps narrow down vehicle choices (50%).
When asked about their motivation for purchasing or leasing a new vehicle, out of 24 reasons for making a vehicle change, the majority were needs-based. Of particular note, 23% wanted better gas mileage, 8% more seating capacity, 6% more leg or head room and 4% off-road or towing capacity.
39% were brand-loyal, choosing to keep the same vehicle brand and/or manufacturer that they had before. In addition, 37% were dealer-loyal, choosing to purchase from a dealer that had sold to them or someone they knew in the past.
64% used a manufacturer's website when researching their vehicle online; 54% used a search engine; 43% used a third-party or portal site; and 34% used a local dealer's website.
Those who used a manufacturer's website said the three things that most influenced their recent purchase or lease were: 1) the price of the vehicle with their preferred equipment selections, 2) the ability to find the vehicle that matched their needs in inventory at a local dealership and 3) vehicle specifications.
People who used a dealer's website said two things that influenced them were the same as No. 1 and 2 on a manufacturer's site. But the third influencing factor on the dealer site was that the vehicle looked best in side-by-side comparisons.
On third-party websites, vehicle specifications and positive expert ratings were top influencers, followed by positive consumer ratings.
“While it has long been clear that many consumers prefer to use the Internet when researching a new vehicle, this survey reveals the crucial vehicle information automotive retailing sites need to include to attract consumer traffic and prompt action,” says Raj Sundaram, a senior vice president at DealerTrack.
“What is particularly interesting is how consumers use manufacturer, portal and dealer sites differently depending on where they are in their shopping process,” he says.