One in Five In-Market Consumers Would Buy a Car Online

October 8, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Automotive | Europe & Middle East | Paid Search | Retail & E-Commerce | Social Media

One in five in-market consumers surveyed  – approximately 20% – said they would likely to buy a vehicle over the internet if such a service were available, according to a Capgemini study, “Cars Online 07/08” (via ResearchRecap). In 2001, that proportion was just 2%, Capgemini said.

Capgemini’s ninth annual automotive study explores retail trends in the automotive industry, focusing on consumer buying behavior, environmental issues, web use, lead management and customer loyalty. Nearly 2,600 consumers were surveyed in five countries: US, UK, France, Germany and China.

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Among the findings of “Cars Online 07/08”:

  • The internet is at the top of the list of information sources for consumers when researching car purchases – 80% of those surveyed now use the web – but the way it is being used is changing.

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  • Search engines, automotive blogs and web forums have become key information sources for vehicle buyers who are turning to user-generated websites to obtain a more objective view.
  • 29% of web users referred to consumer-to-consumer sites when researching information, up from 21% a year ago.
  • 78% of respondents rely on search engines to do research.

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  • Moreover, consumers are rejecting traditional information websites – the most popular information source two years ago – in favor of manufacturer websites, which are now the most-frequented source for information.
  • Consumers tend to first visit manufacturer sites, then turn to user-generated content for reviews.
  • The generation gap is narrowing in web usage, with almost half of consumers 50 and older visiting manufacturer sites, a proportion similar to that of the 18-34 age group.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about vehicles as web sophistication grows, often putting them one step ahead of dealerships and automotive companies,” said Nick Gill, Global Leader, Automotive Sector, Capgemini.

“Though it’s difficult to predict exactly how the online channel will develop, there is clearly an untapped opportunity that merits closer investigation; companies seeking to capitalize on online sales should re-evaluate their channel strategy.”

Other key findings from “Cars Online 07/08”:

Consumers are going “green”

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  • Over a quarter of consumers currently own or lease a fuel-efficient vehicle, and half said they are planning to buy or seriously considering a fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • European consumers were more likely than those in the US or China to cite environmental impact as a primary factor influencing their buying decisions.
  • More respondents in China and the US pointed to fuel economy as influencing their decisions.

Vehicle buyers want their information fast

  • As web usage grows, consumers are becoming more demanding: 34% of European and US consumers say they expect to receive a response to a web inquiry within four hours, up from 30% last year.
  • If they don’t get their response fast enough, half of the respondents say they would look for a new dealer.
  • 25% say they would look for a new manufacturer or both a new dealer and a new manufacturer.

Personalized communications impact repurchase decisions

  • Two-thirds of those asked said personalized post-sale communications from a dealer or manufacturer would make them more likely to buy from that company.
  • Many are willing to share information with automakers and dealers:
    • 70% said they would be willing to share information about their future vehicle preferences.
    • 68% would share their vehicle buying history.
    • 56% would share information about their future purchasing intention.

About the Study: Capgemini worked with SmartRevenue, a Ridgefield, Connecticut-based research firm, to conduct the survey for Cars Online 07/08. All analysis and interpretation of the data has been made by Capgemini in collaboration with the Car Internet Research Program (CIRP) of the University of Ottawa, Canada. In total, nearly 2,600 consumers were surveyed in five countries: China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. The composition of the consumer sample in each country was based on projectable national samples representative of the population from the standpoint of region, age and gender. All consumers surveyed were in-market – that is, intending to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle in the next 18 months.

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