More New Car Buyers Turning To Social Media, But Auto Sites Still Tops

More consumers are turning to social media to research new car purchases, but social still lags behind other sources of information, specifically brand and third party Web sites, according to J.D. Power, which surveyed 17,349 new car buyers and lessees for models from 2014-2016 for its latest Autoshopper Study.

Among new car buyers who use the Internet to research potential automotive purchases, the proportion who use social media to gather information increased from 16% in 2015 to 22% in 2016, the J.D. Power survey found. Asked which social media sites they consult, 13% of respondents who use the Internet to research cars named YouTube, followed by 7% for DealerRater, an online review site, and 5% for Facebook.

By contrast, more than nine out of ten new car buyers visit at least one carmaker’s site during the research process, while 84% visit dealer sites and 79% third-party sites like Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book. On that note, the average new car shopper visits four manufacturer Web sites, three third-party sites, and three dealership sites.

Moreover, just because consumers research cars on social media doesn’t mean they necessarily trust the information they find there, according to the same study, which found that just 2% of car shoppers who use the Internet to research cars considered social media to be the “most useful” source of information.

J.D. Power vice president for automotive retail Mike Battaglia attributed some of this disparity to the narrower range of uses for social media data: “Social media platforms aren’t as useful as automotive shopping websites for automotive information, but they do serve the needs of consumers for unbiased dealer reviews, affirmations from other vehicle owners, accessing automotive-related videos and exchanging ideas and opinions with friends and family members.”

Turning to devices, the J.D. Power survey found that 53% of new car buyers who use the Internet to research vehicles do so with mobile devices, with 37% using smartphones compared to 33% for tablets. More people still use desktops to research cars, but this proportion has been declining steadily from 99% in 2012 to 92% today.

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