Numbers You Should Know About The Car Buying Experience

Can you imagine shopping for a car on Facebook? It seems a little crazy, right up until you look at the recent numbers released by J.D. Power.


According to J.D. Power’s New Autoshopper Study, nearly a quarter of internet auto shoppers (22%) are using social media as a resource during their car buying process. Sure, 22% isn’t a majority by any means, but that number is up from 16% the previous year, and that’s a trend that’s likely to continue to rise. While buying a car through Facebook may still be a ways off (private sales aside, because that’s a very real thing already), shoppers are already using sites like YouTube to watch videos, get information, and find reviews about cars, DealerRater to look up what people have to say about dealerships in their area, and Facebook to get ideas and opinions from friends and family.


Still, while the overall usage of social media as part of the car-buying experience is up, only 13% of those using social channels said that their purchase decision was influenced by information they encountered on such sites. More frequently, people are using Facebook and Instagram to post pictures of their new vehicle. About a third of auto buyers who are using social media want to show off a pic of that sweet new ride.


While it’s nice to hear what your friends and family think, far and away, the most common use of the internet is to get information directly from the experts. More than 90% of new car shoppers online visit at least one manufacturer website. Not to be outdone, dealer sites get a visit from 84% of shoppers, and third-party sites are close behind at 79%. Four the average shoppers, this breaks down to around four manufacturer sites, three dealer sites, and three third-party sites.


So what are people actually looking at on these sites? For now, it’s information they aren’t likely to find as readily on Facebook. With 89% of internet car shoppers seeking it out, the most common content people look for is vehicle model information. Pricing and photos are also common targets for those surfing the web with new cars on the brain. What’s interesting though is that users will head to different kinds of sites for different reasons. Shoppers like the manufacturers’ sites for information on different models and their build-and-price tools which let them look at and compare different configurations. Dealer sites are the go-to for checking inventory and scoping out prices. And unsurprisingly, third-party sites are most-used for their reviews.


There were 37 third-party websites measured in the J.D. Power study. Of those, Kelly Blue Book, Consumer Reports, and Edmunds were the three most commonly visited third-party sites for new car shoppers online., though, is worth noting as for the second year in a row it saw the biggest increase in site visits.


Doing internet research has become almost universal for new car shoppers, but all of this research isn’t happening on computers. 53% of shoppers who are doing internet searches for automotive information are doing so on a mobile device, either a smartphone or tablet. It’s a pretty close split as to which kind of device is used more, but smartphones are more common, with 37% saying they spent time shopping on their phones, vs 33% having used a tablet. Still, 92% said that used a laptop computer at some point in the process, so that remains the most common experience.

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