Automotive Internet Shoppers Pick Tablets Over Smartphones


J.D. Power, the highly respected ratings agency, says of new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet in the automotive shopping process, one-half are open to any brand when they initially begin to shop, and more than one-half of Gen Y buyers are open to consider any brand that meets their needs.

The J.D. Power 2013 New Autoshopper Study, released Monday, analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices (computers, smartphones, and tablets) to gather information prior to a purchase, as well as which websites and apps are used. Overall, 79 percent of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet to research their purchase during the shopping process.

Among all so-called AIUs (Automotive Internet Usage), 50 percent are open to any brand at the outset of their shopping process, which increases to 54 percent among Gen Y. Nearly one-half (47 percent) of Gen Y AIUs also use smartphones in their shopping process, which is more than any other demographic.

“It is important for brands and websites to pay special attention to Gen Y buyers, as they are increasing in market share at the greatest rate among all new-vehicle buyers and now comprise more than 20 percent of all retail sales. Automotive manufacturers have a great opportunity to influence these buyers during their shopping process, particularly since so many of them begin the process fairly open minded,” said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media and marketing at J.D. Power.

The study found that almost all AIUs (98 percent) visit manufacturer sites during their shopping process, followed by dealer sites (83 percent); third-party sites (80 percent); and social media sites (7 percent). AIUs more frequently indicate that third-party (54 percent) and manufacturer (52 percent) websites are very helpful during the new-vehicle shopping process, compared with dealer and social media sites/apps.

The study finds that Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Kelley Blue Book are among the most frequently visited third-party websites. Additionally, AIUs indicate that model pricing information, vehicle ratings and reviews, and vehicle comparison information are among the most useful third-party website content when making a purchase decision. 

J.D. Power research also cited other Internet shopping behaviors among AIUs:

  • On average, the entire vehicle-shopping process takes approximately four months for AIUs.
  • On average, AIUs access 10 automotive websites before purchasing a vehicle (including third-party, dealer, and manufacturer sites).
  • Ninety percent or more of AIUs use model information and vehicle pricing. However, only 19 percent of AIUs access dealer ratings/reviews prior to purchase.

The 2013 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 17,012 purchasers and lessees of 2011 to 2013 model-year new vehicles who used information gathered digitally during the shopping process.