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94% of new car buyers now research online

Consumer research trends when buying a car have dramatically changed: 94% of people shopping for a new car now research online before buying, according to Capgemini.

When searching for information online, potential buyers will most often look for reviews and recommendations, often engaging in conversations with other consumers, says David Stradling, head of automotive, and Ines Nadal, head of trends & futures, Ipsos Mori on Brand Republic.

According to Brandwatch, 31% of all the auto mentions online come from Twitter, versus 38% from forums. Auto brands’ Facebook pages and YouTube channels are proving to be a good source of information too, especially when it comes to visualising the products.

In the past couple of years, there has been an increasing number of car manufacturers turning to Facebook and Twitter to capitalise on the new social media-ness of car buying and taking part in the automotive online conversation.

One of the key trends in social media marketing is visual content, and brands have started to experiment with platforms, such as Pinterest or Instagram, to tap into this trend and reach new audiences, adds Stradling and Nadal. For example, Volvo’s #JoyRide asked users to describe their ideal road trip, looking to present Volvo as a lifestyle brand and reach women, who represent 80% of all Pinterest users.

Dealers – ‘the missing piece’

But according to Stradling and Nadal, while this all sounds great, it could be argued that it’s not necessarily helping to sell more cars. There remains a distance between an automotive brand and point of purchase for the consumer.

Dealers seem to be the missing piece to engage people to actually buy the cars. How can brands get dealers to use social media properly to attract the potential buyer?

Auto Trader’s app on Facebook is a clever approach to engage fans who are in the market for a car, rendering buying more social. Consumers using the app while logged into Facebook can search for vehicles by style, make, model and price range, being able to tell their Facebook friends which cars they want.

Audi has also tapped into the digital world, becoming the first brand to open a digital showroom which uses digital presentations to showcase the car, rather than displaying actual cars.

Stradling and Nadal conclude that there is no doubt that digital will be heavily involved in shaping the future of the automotive industry, not only around marketing or point of sale, but also around the vehicle itself: “Digital offers manufacturers a great opportunity to drive the wheels of tomorrow and excite.”

TAGS: Dealers Online Shopping

CATEGORY: Insight

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