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Mobile devices have become a key part of the auto shopping process for US internet users, according to research. And search data suggests consumers are warming up to car shopping—and turning to digital for research at all stages of the purchase funnel.
According to research from Facebook, US vehicle shoppers not only use mobile devices as they research new cars, they even prefer them for some activities. A majority of vehicle shoppers, for example, said mobile was a better way to ask friends and family about auto options, and about two in five preferred to book a test drive from a mobile device. Both upper- and lower-funnel activities were represented in respondents’ mobile preferences.
According to Google, searches for “pictures of” specific automotive brands began to rise in November 2014, with searches in that period up 5% over the prior year. Growth accelerated over the winter and continued rising in spring and summer of 2015, peaking at 32% in September. November brought further growth of 23% over the same period in 2014.
Starting even earlier than the growth in auto image searches, US internet users were doing more Googling of suggested retail prices and list prices for cars.
Those searches began trending upward in spring of 2014, and growth stayed in the double digits throughout 2014 and most of 2015, dropping to 9% in November.
When it came to looking for inventory, search growth was even more dramatic. A few months of triple-digit increases in early 2014 dropped to double digits and remained there through 2015. In the fall of 2015, US internet users were conducted almost twice as many searches for auto brand inventory as they had been a year earlier—when growth was already substantial.
Whether it’s early in the funnel when users were looking for pictures of cars they might be interested in, or as far along as checking for local auto inventories, US consumers are conducted more digital searches for their auto-buying needs.
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