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carmax-factors-influencing-car-purchase-2010-2011-dec11.gif45% of Americans say that quality is the factor that most influences their car-buying decision, representing 22% growth from 37% who cited the factor in 2010, according to a CarMax survey released in December 2011 conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. Data from the survey indicates that price is the second most influential factor, voted by 22% of respondents, down from 28% in 2011. Fewer Americans also cite safety as being most influential when choosing a car, selected by 15% of respondents this year, compared to 22% in 2010. By contrast, resale value has grown in importance, rising from 4% of respondents last year to 7% this year, while environmental or green factors have remained unchanged at 6%.

Quality More Important to Men, Affluent

Men are 46% more likely than women to take quality into account when choosing a car (54% vs. 37%), while consumers with a household income of at least $75,000 are also more likely than those with lower incomes to pick quality as the most important factor in their decision (55% vs. 40%). Price is almost twice as likely to be the most influential factor among those with a household income under $75,000 than among those who are more affluent (27% vs. 14%), while safety is more of a concern for parents than it is for adults without a child under 18 (20% vs. 13%), much the same as it was in 2010 (27% vs. 18%).

Women Want an Easy Transaction

Meanwhile, according to a separate CarMax survey conducted by Ipsos released in November, roughly 1 in 4 women said what was most missing from their last car-buying experience was a quick and effortless transaction.? A fair trade-in value, trustworthy salesperson, or low, fair pricing (all at 15%) were most missing for relatively fewer women. In 2009, when a similar study was conducted, the leading element missing from the experience was also a quick and easy transaction (25%), followed by a fair trade-in value (19%), a trustworthy salesperson (15%), and low, fair pricing (13%).

Financing Relatively Unimportant

Just 13% of women felt that a reasonable finance rate was most lacking from their car-buying experience, unchanged from 2009. However, women residing in the South (17%) and West (15%) appeared far more likely than those in the Northeast (6%) to cite this as a missing element of their experience.

About the Data: The Ipsos poll concerning car-buying factors was conducted October 6-11, 2011 among a nationally representative sample of 1,001 randomly-selected adults aged 18 and over, who were interviewed by telephone. The poll concerning women’s experiences was conducted online from October 4-11, 2011 among a national sample of 510 women aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ US online panel.

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