Marketing Exec Leads Internet Site Panel in Discussing Price Transparency

Price negotiation for most consumers is often described as one of the most arduous parts of the purchase process, according to Joel Ewanick, managing partner of Global Automotive Systems, Inc. The former GM chief marketing officer led a panel discussion about “Vehicle Price Transparency” with four third-party website executives at the October J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable (AMR) in Las Vegas, NV. Excerpts from the panel discussion are highlighted in this post.

Moderator: Joel Ewanick, managing partner, Global Auto Systems, Inc.

 Panel Members:

Seth Berkowitz, president and COO, Edmunds.com

Larry Dominique, executive vice president, TrueCar, Inc.

Jared Rowe, President, Kelley Blue Book

Alex Vetter, senior vice president, Cars.com

Third-Party Website Leaders Define Business Models

Joel: I see that companies like yours are trying to help the consumer through the process. Can you explain what you do, what your business model is, and then we’ll start to compare and contrast?

Seth (Edmunds): “At Edmunds, we’re working through a major transition. For years, we’ve been an information and pricing authority. We probably have the largest repository of automotive information on the Internet with somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 million pages of content. We’ve decided that being this comprehensive encyclopedia of automotive information isn’t enough. . . We’ve decided to make car buying easier. We are going to do this by fostering trust—which is at an all-time low— between consumers and dealers.” Continue reading ›

J.D. Power Expert Discusses Digital Trends in Shopping for a New Vehicle

Arianne Walker

Arianne Walker

Arianne Walker, senior director of media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power, provided insights from J.D. Power’s latest research on the automotive shopping process during an opening review of “How Digital Living Impacts the Automotive Industry,” at the October J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV.

A prior post,  J.D. Power’s Roundtable Speaker Defines “Connected Auto Consumers” summarized Walker’s discussion of shopping trends by generation, statistics about visits to websites, in addition to explaining how AIUs (Automotive Internet Users) access information digitally. Today’s post includes more of Walker’s insight about automotive buyer online research behavior and the roles that social media and video play in the shopping experience. Continue reading ›

Over Half of Gen Y Shoppers Who Use the Web are Open to Any Vehicle Brand

Arianne_Walker New

Arianne Walker

One-half of all new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet in their shopping process (AIUs) are open to considering any vehicle brand at the beginning of their research experience. In addition, that percentage is even higher (54%) among Gen Y AIUs, according to our 2013 New Autoshopper Study.*

We see that close to one-half (47%) of Gen Y AIUs use smartphones in their shopping process—the most of any age demographic, which indicates how important it is for brands and websites to put these younger buyers into their marketing equations. The share of new-vehicle buyers in Gen Y is increasing at the greatest rate among all buyers and is projected to comprise 23% of all 2013 retail sales.

Automakers have a terrific opportunity to influence younger buyers during their shopping process, which averages about four months, particularly since they are quite open to considering different brands as they begin their new-vehicle research. In addition, the digital presence of the brand through mobile advertising and by providing content across mobile-accessible sites may be a great way to reach Gen Y buyers, since we see almost half that use a smartphone during the shopping process. Continue reading ›

Third-Party Automotive Websites Need to Satisfy New- and Used-Vehicle Shoppers

Arianne_Walker New

Arianne Walker

Third-party automotive websites with the highest overall satisfaction among both new- and used-vehicle shoppers have the highest advocacy and loyalty rates, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study.SM

We find a high correlation between overall satisfaction with a third-party site and the likelihood of shoppers recommending and returning to that site in the inaugural year of  measuring the usefulness of automotive third-party automotive websites during the shopping process.

Specifically, a more satisfying experience results in shoppers who report that they “definitely will” return to the website when shopping for a vehicle and that they “definitely will” recommend the site to friends and family. These return visits and positive word of mouth help increase exposure to the revenue-generating advertising on these sites. Continue reading ›

Auto Shoppers Begin Their Digital Research Early; Most Visit Manufacturer Websites

Arianne Walker

New-vehicle buyers go online nearly as soon as they decide to buy a new vehicle, according to results in our 2012 New Autoshopper Study. We also find that a high percentage of buyers—59% of Automotive Internet Users (AIUs)—say that they narrow their consideration list to one model during the final week before their actual purchase, which makes the digital experience and dealer interaction more important than ever.

As expected, nearly all (98%) of AIUs visit manufacturer websites during their shopping process. A majority also visit third-party websites (81%) and then dealer websites (73%). Interestingly, a much smaller percentage say they visit social media sites for automotive research (5%).

Our research indicates that AIUs rely heavily on manufacturer websites for researching specific models and to utilize build tools, while they more frequently rely on third-party sites for comparing vehicles; reading vehicle ratings and reviews; and learning about vehicle trade-in values. AIUs visit dealer sites primarily to research inventory and dealer-specific information, such as to get directions/location, hours, and contact information. Continue reading ›

Automotive Marketers Need to Understand Facebook’s Role in New-Vehicle Buyers’ Lives

Arianne Walker

Social networking website Facebook’s popularity means that new-vehicle buyers are often on Facebook just before visiting an automotive site, providing messaging opportunities for manufacturers, according to our 2011 Website Performance Tools Report, which analyzes results from clickstream* tracking of new-vehicle buyer Internet behavior that we produce in collaboration with Compete, Inc. during the 6 months before buyers make a purchase.

Some 6% of new-vehicle buyers who visit an OEM website visit Facebook immediately before going to a manufacturer-sponsored website, which is competitive with third-party automotive content providers Edmunds.com (8%) and AOL Autos (4%). Facebook matches Ford.com (7%) in the percentage of buyers who visit the social networking site after an OEM site visit. In addition, we find that Facebook “refers” three times as many new-vehicle buyers to OEM or third-party automotive sites as general Internet population traffic (6% vs. 2%, respectively). Continue reading ›