Thanks to the internet, researching a car has never been easier. What used to take days traveling from dealer to dealer now takes minutes as potential purchasers cruise websites and forums to view details on new models, check dealer inventory and pricing, read reviews and even negotiate entire transactions.
According to Nielsen Scarborough, almost 22 million Americans took to the web during the past 12 months to research and shop for a vehicle. For automotive manufacturers and dealers, a strong digital strategy is no longer a “nice to have”—now, it’s a necessity. To create that strategy, they must understand the online auto researcher audience and create content that will engage them. To get a glimpse under the hood, Scarborough examined the demographics and behaviors of online auto researchers, adults 18 and older who meet two key criteria: they say they research and compare as many vehicles as possible before making a final purchase decision and they say they’ve shopped for a vehicle on the internet in the past 12 months.
What is the makeup of an online auto researchers? Generationally, they cover the spectrum: 34% are Millennials, 29% are Gen Xers 27% are Baby Boomers. They’re 27% more likely to be male and have household incomes that are $17,000 higher than the average U.S. adult. Online auto researchers span the U.S., but penetration varies with higher concentrations in Austin, Albuquerque, Columbus, Salt Lake City and Greensboro. This diversity will require content creators to step away from a one-size-fits-all strategy. But the extra effort should pay off, as online auto researchers are a lucrative consumer group. They plan to spend $4,700 more than the average adult on their next vehicle purchase, and almost one-third (30%) have purchased a vehicle on the internet during the past 12 months.