February 21, 2006, 12:00 AM

Younger car buyers prefer the web to TV and print advertising

35% of younger and first-time vehicle buyers consider the Internet their most important informational tool, says a new survey from the Polk Center for Automotive Studies.


35% of younger and first-time vehicle buyers consider the Internet to be their most important informational tool, compared to 8.2% for television, 4.4% for magazines, 3.6% for newspapers and 1.1% for radio, says a new survey from the Polk Center for Automotive Studies.

“First-time buyers’ dependence on web-based media validates the need for an aggressive interactive strategy to court them on the manufacturer and retail level,” says managing director Lonnie Miller. “The Internet’s relevance in the 18- to 30-year age group has reached critical mass and is completely reconfiguring how car companies need to reach out to first-time buyers.”

Miller predicted emerging technologies such as podcasts and video-on-demand will create new marketing opportunities as increased bandwidth creates a convergence of cell phones, PDAs, Internet and broadcast tools.

“Harnessing mobile media technology will be the automotive industry’s most important marketing challenge – and opportunity – in the next decade,” Miller says. “Generation Y is tuning out traditional advertising, and watching what they want, when they want. Creating break-through content and developing relationships with customers through emerging media technologies will separate the winners from the losers in the next five years.”

The survey also found first-time buyers are independent in their decision-making and rarely are compelled to visit the dealership where their parents last purchased a vehicle. For instance, 65% of respondents said they made the purchase without any influence from family and friends and just 7% felt buying from the same dealership as their parents was of high importance to them.

“Manufacturers should not count on automatic loyalty among first-time buyers, even if their parents are current customers. Not only is it an uphill battle to get their attention, but traditional endorsements from family members don’t appear to play a large factor, especially from a retailer view,” says Miller. A total of 366 first-time vehicle buyers ages 18 to 30 from across the U.S. participated in this study, Polk says.


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