J.D. Power : Social media shaping customer expectations


If the auto industry wants to target prospective new-vehicle buyers online, it would more effective to use social networking sites like Facebook instead of online search engines or portals, speakers at the opening presentation of the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Internet Roundtable suggested Thursday.

J.D. Power and Compete presented analysis that indicates social media can reach more potential new-car buyers than such avenues as Google or Yahoo.

Their clickstream analysis tracks the actual Web URL addresses that new-car buyers visit, and suggests that auto marketers can be better positioned to find potential new-car buyers online by developing a presence within social networking sites.

And they can increase their chances to interact with new-vehicle shoppers by creating fan pages or profiles. But the study also warned that overt advertising on social networks is likely to be viewed negatively by consumers.

Continuing on, their clickstream analysis also found that one-third of buyers go to an auto brand Web site or third-party site during the prior six months (or longer) before making a purchase, and two-thirds do the same three months before buying.

Also, 19 percent of auto buyers who browse online claimed that they access dealer sites first. However, 41 percent head to OEM sites first and 40 percent visit third-party auto sites right off the bat.

Additionally, new-car buyers who shop around online tend to consider an average of 2.9 vehicles.

“Clickstream analysis provides a comprehensive look at online buyers and their realities of their shopping behavior,” noted J.D. Power. 

Automotive Internet Roundtable also discussed how social media analysis can be used as a tool to better understand auto consumers, especially in light of the increasing popularity of social networking. 

For instance, social media analysis examining online auto conversations has discovered that:

—Much of the discussions involving hybrids are more about competition and fuel efficiency and less about pricing and features.

—Web conversations about pickup trucks have decreased this year, but there are more social networkers talking about hybrids and vans.

“Social media is now shaping customer expectations in any and every way,” noted J.D. Power.  

“Listening to social media is increasingly on people’s radar screens and people are scrambling to understand it,” POWER continued. “It’s not enough simply to count the buzz, it is important to understand what that buzz really means to your brand.”

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