More auto shoppers are going to branded carmaker Web sites than ever, but they are going to fewer sites in total, according to Capgemini.
Manufacturer sites topped the list of sources consumers planned to use during their auto shopping process: 49% of respondents planned to use them in 2006, compared with only 31% in 2005.
The study also found that traditional media are losing ground. Reliance on print media dropped to 25% of respondents in 2006, from 32% in 2005, while TV advertising remained flat, with 24% of respondents in 2006, compared to 23% in 2005.
In fact, online sources took four of the top five spots in Capgemini’s survey: Manufacturer-specific dealer sites (49%), information sites (45%) and general dealer sites (43%) placed highly. Family and friends, typically the first or second choice in auto-related surveys, were a strong second this year, at 46%. Traditional media continued to lose ground: Reliance on print media dropped to 25% of respondents in 2006, from 32% in 2005, while TV advertising remained flat, with 24% of respondents in 2006, compared to 23% in 2005.
Newer sources of information like blogs and discussion groups resonated with 16% of respondents, and their influence is expected to rise in the coming years. Not surprisingly, 20% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said they use Web forums and online discussion groups as part of their online auto shopping, compared with just 10% of consumers over the age of 50. Other interactive methods of communication, social networks and RSS feeds were becoming popular as well, pointing to the growing trend of sharing information via the Internet.
Auto shoppers do use OEM sites for research, but they think that non-auto sites actually provide better information, according to a Burst Media and iMedia Connection study.
Almost a third of in-market respondents to the Burst Media study agreed that the Internet was the best source for getting automotive information — but not on automobile Web sites. Manufacturers’ sites ranked fourth.
eMarketer Senior Analyst Lisa Phillips says this points to the range of online information available to auto shoppers. "Consumers check out a variety sites, from independent sites to blogs, discussion boards and social networks," she says.
Auto shoppers rated word-of-mouth as second best to non-auto sites, in the form of talking to friends and family. Local dealers ranked third. Traditional media — magazines, newspapers, TV and radio — were far down the list of preferred information sources.