A study on large purchases made in the past five years confirms the impact of customer satisfaction and word of mouth on car purchases and brand choices. According to the Large Purchase study by S. Radoff Associates, about one-third of car purchasers in the past year said they were influenced by their past experience (35 percent) and face-to-face or phone communications with friends and family (30 percent) when making their car choice.
In the hierarchy of information sources that influence car purchases, offline word of mouth has a bigger influence on consumers than online word of mouth. Yet, the rising role of online word of mouth in closing car deals is a noteworthy trend. Over the past five years, online word of mouth sources (e.g., online reviews, blogs, social networks, forums, friend emails) have been increasingly influential in driving consumers’ car purchasing decisions and brand choices. Five years ago, one-fifth (20 percent) of consumers pointed to online word of mouth among the sources that shaped their decision. A year ago, more than one-quarter (26 percent) indicated that online word of mouth helped them choose and buy their car.
As car purchasers increasingly rely on online word of mouth sources, automotive brands need to be prepared to monitor and join online conversations. For car buyers experience is a fundamental decision factor. They assess their hands-on experience along with others’ experience in driving vehicles. Online marketing and communication initiatives that highlight positive consumer experiences and provide extended service to potential customers are bound to drive sales.
To read more about how various car purchaser segments (e.g., women, parents, young adults) make their buying decisions and brand choices, download the ebook What Drives Cars here.