May 26, 2006

Online used-vehicle ads outpace print ads two to one

Westlake Village, California – More than twice as many late-model used-vehicle buyers in the U.S. use the Internet to find their vehicles than both newspaper and magazine classified ads combined, according to a study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

The study found that in the past five years, the percentage of buyers finding their used vehicle through a traditional newspaper or magazine classified ad has been cut in half, from 14 per cent in 2002 to 7 per cent in 2006. During the same period, buyers finding their vehicles through online classifieds have doubled from 8 per cent in 2002 to 16 per cent in 2006.

“Print continues to serve an important purpose in marketing, but its role in the area of classified listings is diminishing quickly,” says Min Cho, senior analyst at J. D. Power and Associates. “The domination of the Internet over print in the used-vehicle market will only increase as today’s younger buyers become a larger buying force in the market. Buyers under the age of 35 are more than four times as likely to be led to the vehicle they purchase by information found online, than by print classified ads.”

The study found that this year, 59 per cent of used-vehicle buyers used the Internet during the shopping process, up from 53 per cent in 2005; 80 per cent of used-vehicle buyers now have access to the Internet, up 4 per cent from 2005.

“It is now cheaper than ever to own a computer and to have Internet service, which is why we’re seeing such significant shifts in the number of consumers using the Internet to shop for used vehicles,” says Cho. “Once shoppers are online, they are finding that automotive Web sites are providing better quality and quantity of information about used vehicles. The impact can be felt in what shoppers buy, who they buy from and what they’re willing to pay for their vehicle. Better search tools and applications are allowing Web sites to ‘listen’ to shoppers better, and more quickly match them up with appropriate vehicle considerations.”

Independent Web sites have the highest visitation rates among used-vehicle buyers, at 90 per cent, although dealership sites attract large numbers as well. The study found that 64 per cent of visitors to dealership Web sites are looking for used vehicles. The high visitation rate could be due to the fact that 41 per cent of late-model used-vehicle buyers consider one or more new vehicles before they buy.

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