Westlake Village, California – A new study by J.D. Power and Associates has found that 63 per cent of shoppers considered buying an Asian brand in 2008, up from 60 per cent in 2007, while those considering a domestic brand decreased from 58 per cent in 2007 to 55 per cent in 2008. Those who cross-shop the two are more likely to purchase an Asian brand, and most often cite retained value, reliability and gas mileage as primary reasons. Those who purchase a domestic brand instead of an Asian brand most commonly cite a desire to “buy American” as the primary reason, followed by rebates and incentives offered, and vehicle price.

The study also found that 80 per cent of vehicles rejected by shoppers are only rejected after the shopper has visited a dealership. Reasons include another dealer with better service, limited availability of the specific vehicle on dealer lots, and lack of professionalism among dealership personnel.

“Given today’s challenging automotive market, both sales and service experiences at the dealership are particularly critical in the decision-making process of shoppers,” said Tom Gauer, senior director of automotive retail research. “Sales personnel can play a key role in improving close rates by viewing customer visits as an opportunity to demonstrate a vehicle’s value and by successfully matching shoppers with the new vehicle that best suits their needs.”

Those who cite gas mileage as a reason for rejecting a vehicle have increased from 17 per cent in 2007 to nearly 20 per cent in 2008. Nearly 40 per cent of all shoppers cite price as the most influential reason for not purchasing a vehicle.

“Interestingly, nearly 40 per cent of all shoppers who reject a vehicle because of price say they can afford the vehicle, but don’t believe the vehicle is worth the price,” Gauer said. “This presents an opportunity for dealership personnel to focus on demonstrating the different features contributing to the vehicle’s total value to these shoppers, which can eventually lead to increases in close rates.”

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