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New Study Reveals Growing Influence of Social Media on Automotive Purchase Decisions

October 11, 2011

Study shows social media use impacts every aspect of automotive purchase process from research to ownership


Burlington, VT -- Dealer.com (www.dealer.com), the global leader in automotive internet marketing solutions, in partnership with DriverSide and GfK Automotive, today announced the results of a study that shows that information on social media networks - such as status updates, comments and "likes" -plays a significant and expanding role in helping car-buyers determine which brands, models and dealerships to consider, and which ones to drop, when shopping for a new vehicle. The results also point to the role of advocacy between consumers as a powerful force, and underscore the importance for dealers and manufacturers to continue to engage with buyers; especially after the purchase when consumers are bonding with their new vehicle and are highly likely to broadcast their new car and purchase experience on social media channels.

The study, entitled The Rise of Loyalty, Advocacy and Influence: Social Media and the New Automotive Buying Cycle, examines how social media influences different stages of the car shopping process among nearly 2,000 consumers who had recently purchased a new vehicle or were looking to purchase one within the next 12 months. The study also explores the impact of consumer advocacy on loyalty. Findings from the study point to early signs of a trend that social media will progressively grow in influence as people increasingly turn to it as a shopping resource. The study also finds that social media use among consumers who consider themselves loyal to at least one dealer or manufacturer is higher than those who have no loyalty, underlining how critical it is for dealers and manufacturers to build, nurture and maintain positive relationships with their customers after they drive their new car off the lot.

"We are witnessing the evolution of the automotive purchase cycle, which takes into account the rapidly growing influence of social media on the car-buying process," said Kevin Root, Chief Product Officer of Dealer.com, who directed the study. "Dealers and manufacturers need to recognize the importance of this new person-to-person marketing phenomenon, where the advocacy of others is increasingly more valuable to consumers than traditional marketing. By making social media an integral part of the marketing mix, they can turn customers into loyalists and advocates, and through them, favorably impact decisions of others about what car to buy and whom to buy it from."

Significant findings from the study include the following:

-   38 percent of new vehicle shoppers said they used or will use social media to research their next vehicle purchase.

-   Of those who used Facebook while shopping, 41 percent said they saw a post that caused them to add a brand or model to their consideration; similarly, 28 percent said they saw a posting that caused them to add a dealership to their consideration.

-    Approximately 25 percent of buyers use social media post-purchase to broadcast their purchase and ownership experience, showing a high level of engagement after the purchase. This number jumps to 33 percent for those loyal to a particular brand, and 37 percent for those loyal to a dealership.

-   Of those who were loyal to a brand, 44 percent are very or somewhat likely to recommend that brand to their social networks; among those loyal to a dealership, that number is 47 percent.

Methodology:

Dealer.com, DriverSide and GfK Automotive  partnered to conduct web-based self-administered survey exploring the impact of social media on the car buying process. The research included nearly 2,000 consumers who had recently purchased a new vehicle or were planning on purchasing a new vehicle within the next 12 months and had already started shopping.

A white paper analyzing the implications of the research findings for OEMs and dealers will be available for free download late November 2011; you can pre-sign-up today for a copy of the white paper at www.doessocialmatter.com

About GfK Automotive
GfK Automotive is the pre-eminent provider of product, brand and consumer research and consulting to the global automotive industry. With over 50 years in the business, our clients include every major European, North American and Far Eastern car manufacturer. We provide our clients with high impact and insightful information, relevant for their decision-making processes, through an increased knowledge of their customers, using a full spectrum of services, methodologies and techniques.

About DriverSide www.driverside.com
Recognized by CNET as the best site to use to maintain a vehicle, Driverside.com is the first website specifically designed for automobile owners. DriverSide allows consumers to save money on servicing and maintenance costs, diagnose car problems as well as buy and sell automobiles. DriverSide’s in-house editorial staff offers useful advice on how to own and operate a vehicle and new and used auto reviews. The site’s community features allow consumers to participate in forums, meet other owners of a particular vehicle, share knowledge, and post reviews on mechanics and dealers. The company also works with businesses across the auto industry to provide comprehensive programs designed to attract and retain customers and increase profits. The award-winning website has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal and on Good Morning America.

DriverSide was founded in fall, 2007 by Internet entrepreneurs Trevor Traina, Adam Jackson, and Jad Dunning. The company is funded by Catamount Ventures and Allegis Capital. For more information, go to www.driverside.com

About Dealer.comwww.dealer.com )
Dealer.com is the global leader in online marketing solutions for the automotive industry, providing award-winning e-marketing solutions to OEMs, auto dealers and media companies. Headquartered in Burlington, Vermont with a satellite office in Manhattan Beach, California, the company’s innovative websites and integrated online tools include advertising alternatives that significantly lower the cost of customer acquisition, enhancing dealers’ efficiency and profitability.

Recent national and international accolades include placing No. 14 on Outside magazine’s 2011 list of Best Places to Work in America and receiving two Stevie Awards from the American Business Association for Best Overall Company of the Year and Fastest Growing Company of the year in 2011. Dealer.com has also by honored by Inc. magazine as one of the 2010 Top Small Company Workplaces in addition to securing a place on both the Inc. 5000 and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 rankings in 2010. Dealer.com was also ranked first in SEO effectiveness among auto dealer website providers for the third consecutive year in 2011 by Sorgenfrei LLC.

10/10/11

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