September 28, 2004, 12:00 AM

Why used car buyers are using the Internet even more

Internet use among used-vehicle buyers has jumped significantly, with 54% of late-model used-vehicle buyers using the Internet during their shopping process—up from 47% in 2003, according to a new study from J.D. Power and Associates.

 

When it comes to researching and scouting out the best price for their next used car, vehicle shoppers are flocking to the web.

In fact, Internet use among used-vehicle buyers has jumped significantly, with 54% of late-model used-vehicle buyers using the Internet during their shopping process-up from 47% in 2003, according to a new study from J.D. Power and Associates.

"This is the most explosive growth in the used-vehicle automotive Internet user rate we have seen in three years," says Dennis Galbraith, senior director of research for J.D. Power and Associates. "Not only are shoppers using the Internet in greater numbers, but also far more of them are finding their purchase decisions are impacted by information found online."

Among all used-vehicle buyers, 36% say their make and model decisions were influenced by information found online-up from 29% in 2003-while 22% were influenced in their selection of sellers-up from 16%. Among automotive Internet users, 85% say the Internet influenced the price they paid for their vehicle, and 66% say it influenced which make or model to purchase.

The study also finds, for the first time, that online sources have outpaced traditional newspaper advertising as the method that led buyers to the used vehicles they actually purchased. While 9% of buyers say they found their used vehicle through a newspaper advertisement, 11% credit the Internet as the source of their purchase, says J.D. Power.

"Critical buying decisions increasingly are happening online," says Galbraith. "This should serve as a wake-up call to used-vehicle dealers not yet using the Internet to promote their inventories. The more comfortable consumers become with the Internet, the more used-vehicle shoppers we will see going deep into the purchase funnel while online."

Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com remains the most visited automotive site among used-vehicle buyers. AutoTrader.com continues to be the site that leads the most used-vehicle buyers to the vehicles they purchase. Online auction sites are growing in importance, with eBay Motors now following AutoTrader.com closely as a popular source of online sales.

The study is based on responses from more than 12,000 owners of used vehicles who purchased pre-owned 1999-2004 model-year vehicles.

 

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