Digital Drives New Vehicle Choice: Ipsos Study - Car review and comparison websites top the list of new car shopper influences

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February 28, 2014

Car review and comparison websites are now the primary source of information and influence when purchasing a new vehicle, a landmark study by Ipsos has revealed.   Further, these key resources are used across the five stages consumers experience along the path to a new car purchase.

The “Auto Futures: Journey to Vehicle Ownership” study was designed to navigate the new buying landscape and uncover the triggers, activities, influences and barriers consumers experience when buying cars.

Conducted in conjunction with Ltd, the car classifieds site which is seen as both a car review and comparison site, the study also found car ownership and affordability were on the rise while brand loyalty is declining.

The Ipsos study found that while consumers still consult family when purchasing a new car, they are also heavy users of car review, car comparison, auto manufacturer and dealer websites.

It found that, over the entire purchase journey, 61% of new and used car buyers were influenced by car review and car comparison websites, 45% were influenced by auto manufacturer websites and 38% were influenced by dealerships.

The sites were consulted at every stage of the purchasing journey including Landscape (deciding to buy a new car); Validate (determining a shortlist); Compare (determining a ‘winner’); The Deal (finding the right car and best deal); and Ownership (purchase validation).

The study utilised Ipsos’s proprietary global “Journey Pathfinder” research methodology, which draws upon influences, behaviours and mindsets of consumers. The quantitative and qualitative study used combined in-depth interviews and over 800 online surveys.

“Australia has one of the highest per-capita car ownership levels in the world. The relationship we have with our car is significant and the journey to purchasing a new car is a considered and emotional one, taking into account financial and lifestyle needs, with people wanting to feel confident and validated in their decision,” Ipsos Marketing Account Director Jeanine Whalley said.

“Knowing where consumers are going for information, and knowing their needs at each stage of the vehicle purchasing journey, along with the emotions experienced, can be the key for a successful car purchase.

“Dealerships also play a critical role. The experience has a major influence on how confident people feel in their purchase decision,” she said.

Adding to the complexity of the vehicle purchase process is the fragmentation of the car market.

“Australia has one of the most competitive new car markets in the world with a staggering 450 different models and almost 3,000 badge variants for sale last year,” carsales Head of Insights & Analytics Sam Granleese said,.  

“Digital channels, which provide the ability to compare and validate detailed specifications, pricing and offers and view trusted reviews, are highly influential in guiding buyers though this market.”

Key findings

  • Many buyers are undecided when choosing a vehicle – 29% of new car buyers also consider buying a used car; 30% of used car buyers also consider buying a new car
  • On average, consumers make four dealership visits (to the same or different dealerships) before purchasing their vehicle
  • Smartphones and tablets are used extensively – even to check competitive prices in the dealership
  • Prospective buyers are prepared to travel to get a better deal - 33% of intenders surveyed – were willing to travel more than 80kms
  • Increased affordability and fragmentation of the market have led to a decline in brand loyalty over the last 20 years.

For further information and interviews contact:

Ipsos contact

Rochelle Burbury                
Third Avenue Consulting                
0408 774 577                         

Angela Cross
Third Avenue Consulting
0412 929 397 Ltd contact

Sam Granleese
Head of Insights & Analytics
03 9093 8624

About Ipsos Australia
Ipsos is the world’s third largest and Australia’s second largest market research company, present in 86 countries. Innovative, entrepreneurial and client-focused, Ipsos is the only global market research firm still controlled and operated by its founders, who are market researchers.

Ipsos launched in Australia in 1999. Headquartered in Sydney and with offices in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, Ipsos Australia has several research specialties including: Advertising; Loyalty; Marketing and Healthcare; Public Affairs and Social Research; Qualitative Research; Operations (survey management and data collection); and MediaCT (Media, Content and Technology)

Ipsos Australia clients cover a wide range of sectors, including health, tourism, education, industry and employment, social welfare and community services, transport, taxation, and electoral services.

Ipsos was founded in 1975 and first listed on the Paris Stock Exchange: July 1, 1999. Its total revenues in 2012 were €1,789 million. The company has more than 15,000 employees and more than 5,000 clients.

About Ltd. Ltd listed on the ASX in 2009 and is the largest online automotive, motorcycle and marine classifieds business in Australia; attracting more Australians interested in buying or selling cars, motorcycles, trucks and boats than any other classified group of websites.


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