“Disruptive” Website/App Users Spend More Time Researching Vehicles Before Purchasing, J.D. Power Finds

Seven in 10 users of disruptive technologies use smartphones for research at high rates

Costa Mesa, CA — September 14, 2017  Users of “disruptive” websites and apps such as Zappos, Netflix, Uber, and AirBnB—digital brands that challenge traditional business models—spend more time using their smartphones to conduct research prior to visiting a dealershipaccording to the J.D. Power 2017 New Autoshopper StudySM, released today.


The study analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices—tablets, smartphones, and computers—to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps they use during the shopping process.

The study also examines which types of content new-vehicle buyers access during their shopping process and which content they find most useful. This year, the study also explores the behavior of users of disruptive websites and apps that consumers use in their everyday life.

Users of disruptive websites and apps comprise 13% of new-vehicle buyers who use automotive shopping sites. They tend to be younger, but are not limited to the youngest generations[1]—although 33% of Gen Y are users, 18% of Gen X and 6% of boomers and pre-boomers also fall into the disruptive user category.

“It is important that we understand the automotive shopping patterns of disruptors, as it gives us a look into the future of what the digital auto shopping ecosystem may look like, as more and more consumers embrace these disruptive websites and apps,” said Sean Weingarten, director, Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. “It’s not just young peopleit’s anyone who is open to the adoption of completely new experiences.”

The path to purchase for these disruptor site and app users is similar to non-disruptive site usersboth groups take about four months to shop for and buy their new vehiclebut disruptive site users spend far more total hours conducting automotive research on the internet than non-users (19 hours vs. 12 hours, respectively) and visit more automotive shopping sites (12 sites vs. 9 sites).

Users of disruptive technologies also visit more third-party sides and are far more likely to use smartphones to conduct automotive research (69%) than are non-users (38%).

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Automotive research on mobile devices on the rise: More than half (56%) of automotive internet shoppers conduct research on a mobile device. Smartphone usage continues to trend upward in 2017 (42% vs. 37% in 2016), while tablet usage dips slightly (32% vs. 33% in 2016). The average internet shopper spends 13 hours conducting automotive research online, and now 36% of the total time spent is on mobile devices.
  • Third-party website leaders remain unchanged: The study examines 35 third-party websites. The three most frequently visited third-party sites have remained consistent since 2012: Kelley Blue Book (41%), Edmunds (29%), and Consumer Reports (23%), although both Edmunds and Consumer Reports experience notable drops in visitation this year (-3 and -7 percentage points, respectively, vs. last year).
  • Influencing the purchase funnel: More than half (53%) of automotive internet shoppers indicate that they knew the make or model of the vehicle they wanted to purchase before beginning to shop, then went on to buy it. In fact, since 2013, the percentage of buyers that know the exact model they initially want to buy has increased steadily, from 28% to 37% this year.  This, in turn, has driven down the number of vehicles considered and the number of dealers visited among automotive internet shoppers.

The 2017 U.S. New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 18,393 purchasers and lessees of new 2015 to 2017 model-year vehicles who used information gathered digitally during their shopping process.  The study was fielded from February through June 2017.

For more information about the 2017 New Autoshopper Study, visit www.jdpower.com/resource/jd-power-new-autoshopper-study.

[1] J.D. Power defines generational groups as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y (1977-1994); and Gen Z (1995-2004)

About J.D. Power

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services, and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth, and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, and has offices serving North/South America, Asia Pacific, and Europe. J.D. Power is a portfolio company of XIO Group, a global alternative investments firm headquartered in London, and is led by its four founders: Athene Li, Joseph Pacini, Murphy Qiao, and Carsten Geyer.

Media Relations Contacts

Geno Effler, West Coast, 714-621-6224, media.relations@jdpa.com

Shane Smith, East Coast, 424-903-3665, ssmith@pacificcommunicationsgroup.com

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