Americans love social media, but they don’t consider it a reliable source of information when it comes to buying cars, according to new research. That’s in contrast to car buyers in other
countries, for example China, where social media is a major influence on car-buying decisions.
The TNS study, title “The Automotive Path to Purchase Study,” found that
just 7% of U.S. car buyers cited social media, including automotive blogs, customer reviews and forums, as their most trusted source of information when purchasing a vehicle.
that the apparently user-generated content isn’t trustworthy because brands have “infiltrated” social media. U.S. car buyers were more likely to be swayed by traditional marketing,
with 59% citing brand-controlled channels, including TV and press ads, as their most influential source of information.
By comparison, 31% of car buyers in China said they consider
social media their must trusted source of information, while 43% said they trust brand-controlled channels.
Andy Turton, TNS global development director, stated: “Digital-savvy
car buyers in the US are increasingly suspicious of brand involvement when it comes to supposedly 'independent' sources like blogs and forums. In China, where the car market is comparatively young and
people are keen to explore new digital channels, it’s a different story.”
TNS therefore advised U.S. marketers to focus on traditional media, with the goal of persuading
buyers to consult other sources of information, for example, the brand Web site, a car dealership, or friends and family. Word of mouth is still a crucial factor, even if it’s not taking place
on online social media. Some 38% of U.S. car buyers and 26% of Chinese car buyers cited dealers as their most important source of information.
Turton added: “That’s not to
say that social and digital channels should be neglected entirely in the US. In fact the biggest success stories are where auto brands successfully integrate digital engagement with more of the
old-style "Mad Men" advertising strategies.”