Report: Social Media Not Yet Reaching Full Potential in Influencing Auto Sales


ROCHESTER — Foresight Research has released its 2012 Social Media Auto Marketing Report. Based on surveys among 7,851 new vehicle buyers in the U.S., it reveals:

  •  16 percent of all recent vehicle buyers discussed cars or trucks on social media during the 12 months before purchase.
  •  Overall, 5 percent of buyers were highly influenced by social media sites and discussions.
  • Social media users generate 40 percent more word of mouth recommendations each year than the average new car buyer.
  •  Purchase influence contributed by social media occurs in the early and middle stages of the overall purchase process.
  •  Buyers of Mitsubishi, Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Volkswagen are most likely to post online comments about their new vehicle.
  •  Social media best delivers emotional messages such as “fun to drive” and “reviews and commentary”, while more practical messages such as “features”,” specifications”,” technical information” and “price value” are better left to other media sources.

“Social media is about fostering engagement, with customers being participants rather than just advertising viewers,” said Steve Bruyn, CEO of Foresight Research. “While automotive marketers quickly embraced
social media marketing, early efforts fell flat as they did not embrace the medium’s unique requirements. Successful use of social media relies on building word of mouth from trusted sources rather than messages
known to be packaged or provided by the marketer. As a result, despite access by virtually anyone with an Internet connection, consumer use of social media during the automotive buying process is still relatively
low, and has so far had limited influence on automotive purchase decisions.”

The data does suggest increasing potential for social media in automotive marketing in coming years, both through expanded use of the medium by buyers, and through better execution of medium-specific
strategies on the part of auto marketers.

This report analyzes buyers who discussed cars and trucks on social sites during their vehicle shopping process. It documents key marketing messages received compared to other forms of communications. It
provides detailed measures of who and what influences those that use social media for their auto decision process. The data is reported by vehicle brand, segment and buyer demographics.

Established in 1998, Foresight Research specializes in studies focusing on the key influencers of purchase decisions in the automotive, marine, advertising, public relations, experiential marketing, healthcare, government, and industry association sectors.