Internet Primary Source for Car Buying Research

BizReport passes on word that, “Over half, 53 percent, of consumers surveyed by DoubleClick Performics used the internet as their primary source for gathering information on automobiles when considering a purchase. The majority, 60 percent, would still prefer to visit a bricks and mortar dealership in person.”

Isn’t the Internet the primary source for research, period, these days? And, heck, I researched my first new car purchase online way back in 1998. The irony is that the services, especially Edmunds.com, have actually become less useful over time than they were then as they attempt to monetize their service.

It’s rather obvious, too, that people will continue to visit dealerships. Once I’ve narrowed by selection to two or three models, I still want to test drive the cars. Indeed, it’s astounding that 40 percent don’t prefer to do that.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. markm says:

    I would imagine most people buying a vehicle don’t know what to look for other than looks so they will take any advice…and the net provides easy advice both right and wrong. If it’s wrong, you don’t know what you don’t know.

  2. James Joyner says:

    If it’s wrong, you don’t know what you don’t know

    Sure. But that’s true of anything, no? You’ve got to at least know which sources are credible.

  3. markm says:

    I suppose. I’m in 60% group that wants seat time rather than someone else’s opinion from the net or face to face.

  4. Michael says:

    One of the benefits of getting other people’s opinions (online or off) is that you get the benefit of their experience.

    A 10 minute test drive can tell you how nice that car is for that 10 minutes. But the internet can tell you if a large number of people had massive transmission failures within the first year. Or if performance dropped noticeably after the first 10,000 miles. Or if the leather seats start coming apart at the seams. Or any number of things you would have now way of knowing about through a simple test drive.

  5. I bought my last two cars based on Internet research.

    The first time, we put a couple competing models on the list and test-drove them along with the favorite. Ended up buying the favorite anyway. I’ve been very happy with it.

    This time we didn’t even bother to test-drive competitors. Sounds dumb, but our Internet research strongly suggested that there really weren’t any competitors. Pretty happy about it so far, though with three kids and two hungry mortgages to feed, the car came at the expense of a summer vacation this year. I suppose I could take my vacation days to sit out on the front porch and swill beer, but we don’t have a front porch and I’m a teetotaler.

    Both times, we decided the price we were willing to pay based on Internet data, and, both times, that’s approximately the price the car was offered at. It’s nice to not feel obligated to haggle.

  6. markm says:

    “A 10 minute test drive can tell you how nice that car is for that 10 minutes. But the internet can tell you if a large number of people had massive transmission failures within the first year.”

    I already get that from the horse’s mouth (I live near the GM Proving Grounds here in Michigan so I know many that work there). Once I get the low down on what has birth defects and if they are fixed it’s all seat time.