Car Buyers Use Apps to Choose the Top Best Cars: Search for 12-19 Hours

Recent recent research shows more car buyers are turning to apps to buy cars. They are also using their devices for research and the leaders in the business still rule. Most know what car they want to buy before hitting the web or apps. App users for other services are more likely to use apps for car shopping, too.

Over Half of Shoppers Use Mobile for Autmobile Research

More than half (56%) of automotive internet shoppers conduct research on a mobile device. Smartphone usage continues to trend upward in 2017 (42% vs. 37% in 2016), while tablet usage dips slightly (32% vs. 33% in 2016). The average internet shopper spends 13 hours conducting automotive research online, and now 36% of the total time spent is on mobile devices.

Last year the company reported 53% of automotive internet shoppers use a mobile device in their quest for automotive information. For 2016, smartphone usage surpasses tablet usage (37% vs. 33%, respectively). The use of desktop or laptop computers remaine most common at 92%, but has been steadily decreasing from 99% in 2012.

In 2016, J.D. Power found that that more than nine out of 10 automotive internet shoppers visit at least one automaker’s site during the shopping process, while 84% visit a dealer site and 79% visit a third-party site. On average, internet shoppers visit 10 automotive websites in their shopping process: four automotive manufacturer websites, three third-party websites and three dealership websites.

The most frequently accessed content on automotive shopping websites are model information (89%), vehicle pricing (88%) and photo galleries (81%). Yet, automotive internet shoppers find different types of sites more useful for different reasons. For example, automotive internet shoppers find that automotive brand sites are most useful for their model information, vehicle configurators and photo galleries, whereas dealer websites are found to be most useful for inventory searches, and vehicle pricing and third-party sites are most useful for vehicle ratings/reviews and vehicle comparisons.ited third-party sites have remained consistent since 2012: Kelley Blue Book (41%), (29%) and Consumer Reports (23%), although both Edmunds and Consumer Reports experience notable drops in visitation this year (-3 and -7 percentage points, respectively, vs. last year).

AUTO Connected Car News readers voted the following at the best car shopping apps for 2016:

  2. Kelley Blue Book
  3. SHIFT

Honorable mention Blinker

 They Know Before They Go Apping

More than half (53%) of automotive internet shoppers indicate that they knew the make or model of the vehicle they wanted to purchase before beginning to shop, then went on to buy it. In fact, since 2013, the percentage of buyers that know the exact model they initially want to buy has increased steadily, from 28% to 37% this year.  This, in turn, has driven down the number of vehicles considered and the number of dealers visited among automotive internet shoppers.

The 2017 U.S. New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 18,393 purchasers and lessees of new 2015 to 2017 model-year vehicles who used information gathered digitally during their shopping process.  The study was fielded from February through June 2017.

Users of “disruptive” websites and apps—such as Zappos, Netflix, Uber and AirBnB spend more time using their smartphones to conduct research prior to visiting a dealership, according to the J.D. Power 2017 New Autoshopper Study.

The study analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices—tablets, smartphones and computers—to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps they use during the shopping process. The study also examines which types of content new-vehicle buyers access during their shopping process and which content they find most useful. This year, the study also explores the behavior of users of disruptive websites and apps that consumers use in their everyday life.

Users of disruptive websites and apps comprise 13% of new-vehicle buyers who use automotive shopping sites. They tend to be younger, but are not limited to the youngest generations—although 33% of Gen Y are users, 18% of Gen X and 6% of Boomers and Pre-Boomers also fall into the disruptive user category.

“It is important that we understand the automotive shopping patterns of disruptors, as it gives us a look into the future of what the digital auto shopping ecosystem may look like, as more and more consumers embrace these disruptive websites and apps,” said Sean Weingarten, Director, Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. “It’s not just young people—it’s anyone who is open to the adoption of completely new experiences.”

The path to purchase for these disruptor site and app users is similar to non-disruptive site users—both groups take about four months to shop for and buy their new vehicle—but disruptive site users spend far more total hours conducting automotive research on the internet than non-users (19 hours vs. 12 hours, respectively) and visit more automotive shopping sites (12 sites vs. 9 sites). Users of disruptive technologies also visit more third party sites and are far more likely to use smartphones to conduct automotive research (69%) than are non-users (38%).

The 2016 the study found  that among automotive internet shoppers, 22% use a social media site as a source while shopping for their new vehicle, up from 16% in 2015. The most popular social media sites used by auto internet shoppers during the shopping process are YouTube (13%), DealerRater (7%) and Facebook (5%).