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Vehicle Shopping Habits Change As Americans Skip Test Drives

Americans are changing the ways they shop around for vehicles.

According to a recent report from DMEautomotive, many Americans are skipping the test drive. The data showed that 16 percent of the 2,000 automotive consumers took no test drive, while 33 percent only test drove one car. In addition, 68 percent of respondents visited two or fewer dealerships when buying a car, with 40 percent only visiting one dealership.

With the advent of the Internet came a wide array of comparison tools for vehicles, and savvy consumers are looking online before heading to dealerships. In addition, only 21 percent of the respondents said they believe a vehicle salesperson is trustworthy, which is a lower rating than mortgage brokers, insurance salespeople and lawyers.

"This avoidance of physical dealerships is in stark contrast with how much online vehicle research is happening: 4 in 5 people now use the Internet for car buying, visiting 10 auto websites in the process," said Mary Sheridan, manager of research and analytics at DMEa. "More people are stealthily comparison-shopping dealerships and inventory online, and then swooping in to buy when their minds are already made up. Dealerships can no longer rely on in-store visits and the old 'be-backs' to drive sales: they need to have the most powerful online presence wherever dealer/vehicle selection is happening, and work far harder to keep customers close throughout the ownership cycle, using every retention marketing tool possible, like a constant-connection mobile app."

Social media impacts decision-making process

A separate study from J.D. Power revealed just how important the role social media plays in consumers deciding what vehicle to purchase.

"Auto manufacturers that focus just on reaching millennials through social media are missing a tremendous opportunity, as social media is a channel that reaches all generations of consumers," said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. "Today for the first time, we have an in-depth understanding of what helps drive satisfaction in social media interactions across generations, and not just among consumers who are highly engaged in social media, but also those who are more casually engaged with a brand through this channel. It is important to provide a satisfying social media experience for all consumers because it helps drive current and future business."

According to the data, consumers who have a positive experience with their servicing and marketing experiences have an optimistic impression of a brand and are therefore more likely to buy that brand in the future. Of the respondents, 20 percent use social media as their primary source when shopping for a vehicle. At the same time however, 29 percent said they get recommendations on vehicles from friends and family through social media.

Shopping for insurance online

As consumers look for vehicles online, the same goes for car insurance.

Consumers can easily compare the rates and coverage from multiple insurance providers at the click of a button. This streamlined approach will help anyone looking to save time and money when looking for insurance.

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