Internet now major force in automotive purchasing process
But forecourt still the most popular place to buy
The internet has fundamentally changed the way consumers make purchasing decisions about cars, altering the role both manufacturers and dealers play in the process, a new study has found.
A third of British car-buyers think the web makes them less dependent on dealers at the pre-sale stage and gives them more control of their purchasing,1 according to digital media company, Specific Media. Half say the internet gives them a wider range of opinion,2 bringing them to the forecourt better-informed having done their own online research, casting dealers in a post-sales role.
Two-thirds of consumers now use the web to research vehicles before purchase,3 with 38% citing the experience as interesting and 32% as enjoyable.4 By placing control of information gathering into the hands of car buyers, the internet has become a major force in the purchasing process, with three-quarters of motorists citing the web as an important influence on their decision, 5.
Despite the dominance of the internet in deciding which car to purchase, it has yet to challenge the forecourt when it comes to actual purchase behaviour. The findings show that well over half6 of consumers still purchase from a main dealer and a fifth buy at other dealers and garages7 this compared to just three per cent of cars that are bought through online auctions, sales sites and other web locations.8
Chris Worrell, European Research Manager at Specific Media, says: The positive news for dealerships is that people are not yet buying cars over the internet. However, the web has become a powerful research tool for consumers, giving them greater control over their purchasing decisions. The automotive consumer of today is well informed and comes to the forecourt armed with information. Dealers and manufacturers need to acknowledge this and look to add value in other areas of their service such as post-sale support.
The findings also show a discrepancy between the brands consumers research online and those they end up buying, with people often searching for high-end marques but ultimately buying mid-market models.9 This suggests that many brands are missing a trick by not targeting the right audiences with their marketing campaigns advertising in the wrong locations and chasing out-of-market consumers.
Worrell continues: Just as the web has evolved the way people approach buying cars, brands need to adapt the way they use the internet to ensure they reach and influence in-market consumers. Manufacturers should look to advertise more effectively online by targeting people who are most likely to buy their cars. This may sometimes challenge received wisdom about target audiences but it is where the power of digital advertising and actionable insight can produce results for automotive brands.
Notes to editors
Specific Media interviewed 1,009 UK driving license holders between 11th and 15th July 2011 via the research now panel.
- 33 per cent say the internet gives them less dependence on visiting a dealer; 36 per cent say the internet allows them to feel more in control
- 48 per cent say the internet allows them access to a wide range of opinion
- 66 per cent say the internet allows them independence in gathering information
- 38 per cent say researching vehicles on the web is interesting and 32% say enjoyable
- 74 per cent of people say the internet is an important place to do research into new car purchases
- 56 per cent of consumers buy cars from main dealers
- 20 per cent buy cars from other dealers/garages
- One per cent of consumers purchased cars on online auction sites; one per cent purchased cars on online sales sites; one per cent purchased cars on other online sites
- The research compared a high-end and a mid-market manufacturer, and found that while 28 per cent of consumers searched for and engaged with the marketing of the high-end brand leading to 109,000 sales, 53 per cent searched for mid-market brands resulting in 280,000 sales
About Specific Media
Specific Media is a digital media company with capabilities spanning original programming, cross-channel distribution and addressable advertising. The company connects audiences, content and brands driving viewership for content owners, engagement for brands and relevance for consumers. As people discover new ways to consume content, Specific Media creates impactful media experiences no matter where they are. www.specificmedia.co.uk
Andrew Farmer and Abi Holdaway
Band & Brown Communications
email@example.com 020 3451 9400