Social Media Changes Auto-Buying Landscape
If you are in the market for a new automobile the chances are you will at least partially use social media to help narrow down your choices. And if you have a bad experience buying a new car you are almost guaranteed to use social media to tell everyone you know about the raw deal you received and who you received it from.
Social media has changed American buying habits forever. As consumers we now have a powerful weapon on our side. We can use this weapon to help protect ourselves from unscrupulous retailers who might otherwise defraud, shortchange or just plain treat us badly. With social media we have the means to exact retribution.
This lesson is being felt most powerfully by those in the automobile retail industry. Buying a new car is the second largest expense for most Americans, after buying a new home. For this reason they want a vehicle that will require little upkeep, get them where they want to go and use only as much gasoline as they require.
To help them find this vehicle they are turning to social media for help. They are asking their family, friends and extended social media network to get the answers they are looking for, before ever setting foot on the dealership parking lot. This means they are better prepared buyers when they finally do show up on the lot. It also means they are ready willing and able to use social media to report any funny business that takes places once they do.
Automobile retailers are very aware of this fact and are working hard to ensure every customer has an excellent experience at their lot, whether or not they end up buying a new car. The chances are your business could also benefit from this advice. You never know how how far a customers social media reach might extend, and you certainly don’t want any negative publicity if you can help it.
The study, entitled The Rise of Loyalty, Advocacy and Influence: Social Media and the New Automotive Buying Cycle, examines how social media influences different stages of the car shopping process among nearly 2,000 consumers who had recently purchased a new vehicle or were looking to purchase one within the next 12 months. The study also explores the impact of consumer advocacy on loyalty. Findings from the study point to early signs of a trend that social media will progressively grow in influence as people increasingly turn to it as a shopping resource. The study also finds that social media use among consumers who consider themselves loyal to at least one dealer or manufacturer is higher than those who have no loyalty, underlining how critical it is for dealers and manufacturers to build, nurture and maintain positive relationships with their customers after they drive their new car off the lot.
“We are witnessing the evolution of the automotive purchase cycle, which takes into account the rapidly growing influence of social media on the car-buying process,” said Kevin Root, Chief Product Officer of Dealer.com, who directed the study. “Dealers and manufacturers need to recognize the importance of this new person-to-person marketing phenomenon, where the advocacy of others is increasingly more valuable to consumers than traditional marketing. By making social media an integral part of the marketing mix, they can turn customers into loyalists and advocates, and through them, favorably impact decisions of others about what car to buy and whom to buy it from.”
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