Friday, June 21, 2013

Car Shoppers Decisions Increasingly Driven by Social Media

Have you turned to your Facebook friends for comments before buying a car or deciding what dealership to go to?  If so, two recent studies suggest that you are not alone.  And, if these studies are on the mark, then the car buying and selling process may be in the middle of a significant evolution.
The first study, conducted by Digital Air Strike, a leading automotive social media and digital marketing service, surveyed more than 2000 car buyers and 650 automotive dealerships.  The study found that consumers nationwide are increasingly using online review sites before determining where to purchase a car.  In fact, 24% of consumers find online review sites the most helpful factor in deciding where to purchase a vehicle, while just 15% found car dealership websites most helpful.  The most popular review sites were at 61%, at 54% (most popular with older car shoppers), Google+ Local at 37% (dropping from a previous ranking in 2012 of 44%), Yelp at 14% (most popular with younger car buyers), and Yahoo at 11%.  The study found that there is a 43% probability that car shoppers will search for a local dealer on Facebook, and a 59% probability that a car shoppers will trust a review from a Facebook friend more than reviews on other sites. 
The second study, conducted by Ebay Motors, surveyed over 1,000 US adults.  The bottom line?  Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 2000, skip the showroom and turn to social media when purchasing a car.  In fact, a staggering 94% of Generation Y car shoppers turn to the internet when shopping for a new car or truck.  More than 33% use mobile devices, compared to 19% of older car shoppers.  And, only 13% prefer to visit dealerships when car shopping and 1 in 5 said that they would even be comfortable with going through the entire car buying process online.   

What does this mean for car dealerships?  If they want to keep or gain their market share, then they have no choice but to focus on online advertising, including Facebook.  Additionally, a car dealer's internet reputation may be just as important, if not more important, than word of mouth.  So, smart car dealers will likely begin focusing on online reputation management through firms like Digital Air Strike, if they have not already.      
Lesson learned for consumers?  Always consult online reviews of a local car dealership before purchasing a car.  This is especially true when purchasing a used car.  And, where you see negative reviews, be weary of similarly worded positive reviews that crop up around the same time-- there is nothing stopping a car dealership from posting "bogus" positive reviews in response to negative ones. 

So, before purchasing your new or used car or truck, take a look online at the reviews for your local car dealerships.  You may be surprised what you find.

Beth Wells
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 9 Years Running

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