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Car Shoppers Head to Review Sites for Research

Almost seven in 10 consumers said dealership reviews affected their purchase decision

July 26, 2012

Just like consumers in almost every other sector of ecommerce, car shoppers are doing their research online before heading out to make a purchase. According to an April 2012 poll by Digital Air Strike of US consumers who had purchased a car in the last six months, review sites were a widely used tool by car buyers during the research phase of their purchase process. In fact, 69% of consumers said review sites had an impact on the dealership they visited.

Half of respondents said reading reviews of dealerships had affirmed their choice of where to make a purchase, while about one-quarter said the reviews had no effect on them. But online feedback from other customers held an outsized influence on a small minority of car shoppers—14% said reviews were the sole reason they had decided to visit a dealership. And 5% decided to change the dealership they bought from after reading negative reviews online.

Effect of Online Reviews When Deciding Which Dealership to Visit According to US Automotive Buyers, April 2012 (% of total)

And when it came to actually buying, almost seven in 10 shoppers said reviews had aided them in their purchase decision. About four in 10 said the reviews helped them in a general sense, while three in 10 had decided to purchase from a particular dealer based on online feedback from other customers. Moreover, if a dealership had been completely absent from review sites, one in 10 respondents would have been less likely to purchase from them.

Effect of Online Reviews on Which Dealership to Purchase Their Vehicle from According to US Automotive Buyers, April 2012 (% of respondents)

Digital Air Strike’s report also audited 600 US dealerships to gauge their social media presence, finding that most dealers had a lax attitude to Facebook, with only 5% posting on the social network daily. In fact, 42% of dealers posted with a frequency of less than once a week.

eMarketer estimates that US online ad spending by the automotive industry will hit $4.35 billion in 2012, and climb to $7.44 billion by 2016.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Social TV Is All About the Big Game” and “Barriers Limit Broad Social Media Uptake in Mexico.”

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