October 11, 2006

New-car shoppers turning to manufacturer and dealer Web sites, says J.D. Power

Westlake Village, California – New-vehicle buyers are relying more on manufacturer and dealer Web sites rather than portals or independent sites for their shopping process, according to the new J.D. Power and Associates New Autoshopper.com survey.

The study, which measures the shopping habits of 28,989 actual new-vehicle buyers, shows a shift in online vehicle shopping from finding the right vehicle price, to finding the right vehicle. A record high of 87 per cent of automotive Internet users (AIU) are visiting at least one manufacturer’s site. By comparison, only 77 per cent of AIUs visit an independent automotive Web site, down from the 2004 peak of 80 per cent.

“Generally speaking, the independent Web sites that shoppers find extremely useful are increasing in visitation or at least holding steady,” says Dennis Galbraith, executive director of digital marketing solutions at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, consumer expectations are increasing faster than many independent Web sites are improving. The result is lower satisfaction ratings for relatively stagnant sites in terms of new content and less visitation by actual buyers. Instead, consumers are visiting several manufacturer sites during the shopping process to gather the information they need.

“Many independent sites start by asking the shopper ‘what make and model are you looking for?’ in exchange for pricing information. The problem is that many shoppers need help determining which vehicle is right for them.”

The automotive sections of large portals all experienced significant declines in site visitation from 2005, although Yahoo! Autos remains one of the industry’s most-visited automotive Web sites. The study found that a record 67.5 per cent of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet in their online shopping process.

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