Young Car Buyers Love Online, But Eschew Social Media

Social media may or may not be useful for selling various kinds of stuff to people, but for one category, automobiles, it’s definitely a non-starter (get it?). That’s according to a new survey of 1,900 new and used car buyers by AutoTrader.com, which found that even social-obsessed millennials are barely using social media in their car buying process. The findings are especially noteworthy because millennials embrace other online resources for research and price comparison.

A mere 1% of car buyers said they use social media to shop for a vehicle, the AutoTrader.com survey found, rising to a scant 5% of millennials. Furthermore 78% of millennials were indifferent to car brands having a social media presence, since their social channels rarely communicate key information on pricing and availability.

By contrast, 95% of millennials use the Internet at large to shop for cars, typically turning to third-party sites for key information. Overall they spend 82% of their total research time of 17.6 hours online, with 51% of the total going to third-party sites. Car buyers in general devote 75% of their total research time of 15.5 hours to the Internet, up from 62% in 2011, and spend 46% of their time on third-party sites. Millennials spend an average 15% of their research time on dealer sites and 10% on manufacturer sites; for car buyers overall the proportions are 19% and 13%, respectively.

When it comes to millennials, the real hot spot for car brands is mobile: 51% of young car buyers used a smartphone to shop for a vehicle, up from 34% last year, and 35% of millennials said that not having a mobile site was bad for car brands. Unsurprisingly 44% of millennial car buyers said they used multiple devices to shop for cars, compared to 32% of car buyers overall.

By contrast traditional media is in decline, with 67% of millennials saying newspapers are “not helpful” and 49% saying the same of TV. In fact just 7% of millennials used newspapers to shop for cars, while a mere 12% used TV.

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1 comment about "Young Car Buyers Love Online, But Eschew Social Media".
  1. James R. Brouwer from THINK Communications, LLC , August 13, 2014 at 3:52 p.m.
    These findings are hardly surprising, though I'm still wondering how as many as 12% actually use TV to shop for a car! If you are a car (or truck) enthusiast, or more specifically a brand enthusiast, you already have developed your social networks and connections. Social network discussions about big ticket items such as cars can (and often do) lead to unwanted commentary.