April 3, 2002

Survey says one in five car buyers visits dealer web-sites

Cincinnati, Ohio – Nearly one in five new car buyers visits the Web site of the automobile dealership they buy from, according to research released by Friedman-Swift Associates, an automotive marketing research firm in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The report, based on interviews with 12,376 new car buyers in 2001, showed that 17 percent of consumers visited the Web site of the dealership they bought from before they purchased or leased their car.

“Increasingly, we see that dealership Web sites are playing a prominent role in car buyers’ decisions,” notes Judy George, chief operating officer of Friedman-Swift Associates. “It’s more important than ever that dealerships market their Web sites and answer consumer email promptly, applying the same sound business principles in the online world as they do in the showroom.”

Most of these new car buyers (49%) said they found the dealership Web site through an Internet search engine. Other ways buyers discovered dealership Web sites included:

  • Linking to the dealership site from an automobile manufacturer’s site (16%);

  • Seeing the dealer’s Web address in a local newspaper ad (11%);
  • Learning about the dealership Web site through a television commercial (2%);
  • Seeing the dealer’s Web address on local billboards (1%);
  • Learning about the dealership Web site through a radio commercial (1%).

“Internet networks and search engines are the single most important way in which consumers find a dealership Web site,” says George. “Dealers need to make sure they are listed with not just major search engines and Internet directories like Yahoo, Google, HotBot and Lycos, but local ones as well.”

The findings are the result of 12,376 telephone surveys conducted with new car buyers throughout 2001. The research has a sampling error of less than one percent.

Friedman-Swift Associates, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a leading provider of automotive marketing research to automobile dealers in the United States.

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