Despite a decline in new car sales during the past few years, plenty of Americans are still on the hunt for their latest ride. The question for automakers is how to get them to pick something from their line-up?
Easy. Make sure their friends and family like their cars, according to a new study out by Autolist.com, which interviewed more than 1,100 current new vehicle shoppers for the study.
The website polled new car shoppers to find out more about their buying process, more precisely, what impacts their decision the most. Word-of-mouth endorsements from friends and family were most often the influence cited – 52% – to impact them the most when it came to making a new vehicle selection.
“When someone in your immediate circle has a good or bad experience with anything, it makes you feel better about making the same decision,” said Chase Disher, analyst at Autolist. “Because cars are such a huge purchase in our lives, word-of-mouth means that much more here.”
Autolist points out that the best example of that impact is Tesla. The California-based EV maker does almost no advertising, but it the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles with its Model 3 sedan leading the way.
However, there are other factors that impact the buying decisions of car buyers, such as organizations like Consumer Reports and JD Power that typically issue endorsement based largely on data collected about vehicles. Those groups ranked second on the list of influences with 33% of respondents saying this had influenced them.
Everyone likes a winner and if a vehicle has captured media award like the North American Car/Truck/Utility of the Year, which is voted on by a group of 60 automotive journalists, or something similar from a publication or consumer site like Motor Trend, Car & Driver, KBB.com and Edmunds.com that makes a difference. It was the third-ranked factor, with 26% of shoppers citing their influence. KBB, Edmunds and AutoTrader were the top three choices.
YouTube reviews, such as those posted by Doug DeMuro, who has 3.36 million subscribers, and offer detailed insights, were cited by 22% of respondents as influencing their decisions.
Since the average age of a new vehicle buyer puts them between Baby Boomer and Gen Xer, the impact of social media influencers isn’t as pronounced, with just 11% of respondents across all age groups citing them as influential. However, that changes significantly if you focus solely on younger buyers. Then the script gets flipped.
Younger shoppers (18-23 years old) had different influences than all other age groups; this cohort relied more on social media influencers and YouTube than any of the other age groups, and less on data-backed organizations, the website noted.
This age group cited YouTube as the second-most influential source (behind friends/family/coworkers), with 36% of respondents choosing it. That compares with the aforementioned 22% of respondents of all ages citing YouTube as influential.
This younger age group also placed the least importance on the grouping of data-backed organizations; just 15% of people 18 to 23 years old said these were influential, compared to the survey average of 33% across all age groups.