The consumer automotive research and buying process is extremely complex, with many online and offline elements. Of course, the online element has been growing steadily as internet use and the number of online information sources has increased. Consumers can access automobile manufacturer websites, third party websites, dealer sites, review sites, the automotive sections of general media sites, and countless social media channels. For vehicles, they can check pricing, specifications, standard & option features, fuel efficiency, MPG and data on warranties and recalls. The variety of information sources is what drives the complexity of the process.
The path to purchase varies by country as well. Millward Brown Digital recently completed an analysis of the automotive path to purchase in the UK, with results somewhat different than analyses we’ve done in the US and elsewhere.
The UK study showed that most consumers start with an auto review site and end with the car manufacturer’s site—an especially important opportunity for influence given that it’s the last online touchpoint before a customer heads to a dealership. For the middle phase of research, the online search process can be diverse: ranging from social media channels to competitors’ websites.
Lincoln Merrihew is the Vice President of Transportation at Millward Brown Digital. At Millward Brown Digital, Lincoln is responsible for steering the Transportation Team, which encompasses the automotive and travel practices. Before Lincoln joined the Millward Brown Digital team, he worked at TNS Custom leading the Automotive team, and then continued on there to lead business development for 10 different industry verticals. Lincoln's career aspiration is to create game-changing solutions and insights. Connect with Lincoln on LinkedIn.