Car Shoppers Using Internet More as Market Shifts

October 15, 2008

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J.D. Power and Associates today released their 2008 New Study, which indicates an increasing number of shoppers turning to the Internet to research vehicles as buying trends shift toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles; 75 percent of buyers are using the internet in '08, versus 70 percent for 2007, they claim.

Arianne Walker, director of marketing/media research for the firm, explains that as buyers who've always preferred larger vehicles and SUVs are being forced to select smaller vehicles, they are turning to the Internet to investigate a vehicle class that they are unfamiliar with. "For many," she says, "this is unknown territory."

The most popular type of Web-based information with these shoppers is consumer-generated content, most specifically vehicle ratings and reviews. Their research further showed that consumers find sites like Kelley Blue Book and as the most useful for vehicle ratings and reviews, while those same consumers turned to auto manufacturer's Web sites for detailed model information and statistics. Kelley Blue Book was the most visited independent Web site, "with 44 percent of automotive Internet users visiting the site."

J.D. Power's study surveyed the self-reported shopping habits of 27,901 individuals looking for a new vehicle, and it took place from May-July 2008. While these are certainly interesting--and believable--facts and figures, extrapolating a three-month study to represent a year's worth of consumer buying habits sounds like a stretch. As new car buyers hold off on purchasing given recent economic and credit snarls, we'd be interested to see just how dramatically the numbers above have changed as a result.

So, new car shoppers out there, where do you turn for information, and who do you trust when it comes to comparisons, technical info, reviews, and statistics for your next vehicle purchase?--Colin Mathews

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