Study: Consumers Catch on to the Showrooming Two-Step

You think you see a customer on the lot looking over a white sedan, checking the price and sizing up the car.

Think again.
Chances are good that they’re actually using a smartphone to compare your white sedan with a blue one across town. In fact, according to J.D. Power and Associates (JDPA), 59 percent of new car shoppers who use a smartphone to research their purchase do so at the dealership lot in order to check prices, search inventory and compare models.

They are not comparing white sedans at the same dealership. This latest trend, reported on August 15 and again on September 11, was underlined in last week’s JDPA 2012 AutoShopper Study and is yet another example of how mobile technology is changing the way people research and interact with dealerships. Indeed, the act of “showrooming” — when consumers use their smartphone or tablet to check prices and compare competitive products at a retail location — has grown from 15 percent of mobile shoppers in 2009 to 59 percent in 2012.


Key Points
–59 percent of mobile researchers use their device at the dealership
–79 percent of new car auto shoppers use the Internet
–20 percent of Internet new car shoppers use smartphones and tablets

“This interplay between the dealership experience and digital information has become more intertwined with the availability of shopping content on mobile devices,” said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power and Associates. “Now that buyers can easily access information right from their pockets, it is essential that the dealer body is as well versed as the shoppers in order to provide consistent information both online and in the dealership.”
The JDPA study is based on survey results from 12,289 purchasers and lessees of 2010 to 2012 model-year new vehicles who used information gathered digitally in the shopping process. The study found that 79 percent of new car shoppers used the Internet to assist with their purchase, and that 20 percent of those used wither tablet of smartphone as a part of the process.
“Access to new-vehicle information through the Internet and apps–obtained via personal computers, smartphones and tablets–is having a greater impact on many aspects of the purchase decision than ever before,” said Walker. “It is important for brands and websites to provide consistency across their sites and apps, no matter what device is being used to access the information.  The shopping experience should be equally usable and the shopping information equally complete, no matter the device.”

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