Online Reaches Parity for Used-Car Shopping

NOVEMBER 5, 2009
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Shopping online is now even with visiting dealership lots as a primary method to find used cars, according to data from J.D. Power and Associates. In 2009, 46% of used-vehicle buyers searched the Internet for cars to purchase, up from 40% in 2008.

Online car shopping was more successful, too. More than three in 10 used-car buyers (31%) found the car they ultimately purchased online, compared with 28% who found it at a dealership.

US Used-Vehicle Buyers Who Rely on the Internet to Locate Vehicles, 2008 & 2009 (% of respondents)

“Internet shopping provides prospective buyers with the opportunity to search through enormous amounts of specific vehicle information without ever leaving home, allowing for a more efficient medium of matching buyers with unique used vehicles in the market,” said Arianne Walker, director of marketing and media research at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement.

According to Ad-ology, Web search results influenced 26.1% of recent new- and used-vehicle purchasers. The Internet had a major impact on car shoppers, with nearly one-half looking to manufacturer Websites and more than 45% affected by local dealership sites. The used-car shoppers surveyed by J.D. Power were more likely to check out third-party sites such as AutoTrader and

Media Channels that Have Influenced Recent Vehicle Purchases According to US Internet Users*, September 2009 (% of respondents)

Social media was a big influence as well, with 42.2% of recent vehicle purchasers reporting an impact from the sites. They were especially interested in the positive and negative comments of other car buyers.

According to Chrome Systems Inc. and Zogby International, 86% of US Internet users who leased or purchased a new car in the past year researched the vehicle online. About two-thirds used a manufacturer’s site for information, and more than one-half searched.

Capgemini’s “Cars Online 09/10” report noted that almost 90% of consumers worldwide research cars online before buying.

“Search engines are increasingly becoming a key starting point for consumers as they search for new models and brands, as well as information about automotive-related blogs, reviews and other types of resources that might help them during the research process,” according to the report.

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Check out today’s other article, “eMarketer Cuts Through the Mobile Penetration Hype.”

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