Online Car-Shopping and CGC Becoming Vital for Used-Vehicle Buyers

October 25, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Automotive | Retail & E-Commerce

Among late-model used-vehicle buyers who use the internet during the shopping process, the internet use has surpassed all other shopping methods as the source for locating the vehicle a buyer ultimately purchases, according to the J.D. Power and Associates “2007 Used Autoshopper.com Study.”

Internet vehicle locators, such as Autotrader.com, CarMax.com, Cars.com and eBay Motors, are increasingly leading consumers to the actual vehicle they buy – and consumer-generated content (CGC) is dramatically affecting internet usage for used-car buying, according to the study.

Among the findings:

  • In 2007, nearly one in four buyers (23%) of late-model used vehicles used an internet vehicle locator or online classified ad services to find the vehicle they purchased – a 44% increase since 2006.
  • 2007 is  the first year that internet use surpasses all other shopping methods in locating the used vehicle that a buyer ultimately purchases.
  • The proportion of used-vehicle buyers who use the internet in the shopping process and who ultimately found the vehicle they purchased via that method is 10 percentage points greater than the number of shoppers who found their vehicle through the second-most-popular method, visiting dealer lots.

“[A]s the number of websites specializing in the used-vehicle market continues to grow, and the use of video, photos and improved dealer inventory management tools proliferates, we can expect that consumer use of the internet for used-vehicle shopping and for actually finding a desired vehicle online will continue to increase,” said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates.

Among the CGC-related findings:

  • Slightly more than seven in 10 used-vehicle automotive internet users (72%) rely on CGC on the internet either while they are shopping for their vehicle or after they purchase it.
  • By far, the most popular types of CGC are consumer ratings and reviews, with two-thirds of used-vehicle automotive internet users accessing this type of content for automotive information.
  • Among used-vehicle automotive internet users who access consumer-generated ratings and reviews, 94% say the information is either “somewhat helpful” or “very helpful.”

“Not only are reviews written by consumers frequently accessed, but also the buyers who use them rate them as the most helpful of all types of consumer-generated content,” said Osborn.

Findings on gender-based differences in used-vehicle shopping:

  • Women not only tend to decide to buy a vehicle earlier in the purchase process than do men (15.9 weeks before the date of purchase compared with 14.1 weeks), but also decide upon the vehicle type and model earlier than do men.
  • At the beginning of the shopping process, men are much more likely to know the make of vehicle they want than women (49% vs. 38%).
  • A much higher proportion of women are initially open to any vehicle that would meet their needs than are men (22% vs. 13%).

About the study: The 2007 Used Autoshopper.com Study is based on responses from 5,476 used-vehicle buyers who purchased pre-owned 2002-2007 model-year vehicles in January and February 2007.

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