Manufacturer websites play a limited role in the early stages of the car buying process as consumers favour automotive stock and consumer sites.
A study by Kantar for Auto Trader suggests that more than half do not go to a carmaker’s website in the first 30 days of their online research, choosing instead these alternative, content-led sites to consider options, prices and to weigh-up the best possible deal.
In the path-to-purchase that takes an average of just six weeks for 85% of new car buyers, 63% initially turn to content-led websites.
The most visited site for people who were researching brand new cars is Auto Trader with 64%, then eBay at 22%, and 13% to GumTree.
Buyers take 10 steps to purchase, the study also reveals.
And while 60% say they are considering up to three brands at the outset, online behaviour points to an average of just 1.8 manufacturer sites visited, suggesting many options are dismissed at the initial research stage.
“It is clear that automotive content sites play a leading role in an increasingly rapid path to purchase for new car buyers,” said Chris Ward, Auto Trader display director.
“Consumers are no longer brand loyal and automotive sites are now where buyers make their brand comparisons and decisions – even which brand to finally purchase.”
The Kantar study measured online desktop activity over a three month period tracking more than 300,000 transactions.
It also found that people do not necessarily follow their original purchase intention when considering options to buy a new, nearly new or used model. For example, of those who planned to buy a nearly new car, 18% bought brand new.
A recent study by Aurora Market Research among 1,024 car buyers, suggests that the more research someone does, the more likely it is they will buy a new car.
21% of the people buying a new car started out looking for a used car, while only 3% of people looking for a new car changed their mind and bought used.
62% of new car buyers don’t contact a dealer before arriving on their forecourt.
This mirrors the average number of forecourt visits that has fallen by 41% in the last four years to an average of 2.2 visits in 2014 according to the latest Google Gearshift report.
For new car buyers the average number of forecourt visits has fallen to 1.6.