JD Power New Autoshopper Study Reveals Increased Social Media Use by Car Buyers

J.D. Power

Social Media Usage During New-Vehicle Shopping Process Increases, According to J.D. Power New Autoshopper Study,SM


22% of New-Vehicle Shoppers Use Social Media Websites as a Shopping Source, But Few Find Them As Helpful As Automotive Shopping Sites


I have been reading and reviewing various J.D. Power research studies, reports, rankings and customer insights for over 30 years. In my opinion, the J.D. Power research is the best structured, most accurate and data you can rely on over any other automotive research organization in our vertical. Time and time again, J.D. Power has pointed to trends and changing consumer preferences far ahead of any other. So, with that in mind, read the following to get a better handle on the impact of social media and mobile devices.

Automotive Consumers who use the internet during their new-vehicle shopping process are increasingly turning to social media websites as a source of information, according to the J.D. Power 2017 New Autoshopper Study,SM released last September, 2017.

The study analyzes how new-vehicle buyers use digital devices—tablets, smartphones and computers—to gather information prior to purchase, as well as which websites and apps they use during the shopping process.

The study also examines which types of content new-vehicle buyers access during their shopping process and which content they find most useful.

Among automotive internet shoppers, 22% use a social media site as a source while shopping for their new vehicle, up from 16% in 2015. The most popular social media sites used by auto internet shoppers during the shopping process are:

  1. YouTube (13%),
  2. DealerRater (7%)
  3. Facebook (5%). 

“Social media plays a large role in many consumers’ lives, so it’s not surprising that it’s one of the tools they’re using during the vehicle-shopping process… While we would not expect social media sites to compete head-on with designated auto shopping sites like and Kelley Blue Book, it’s easy to understand the role and relevance social plays in the automotive shopping process.”–Mike Battaglia, vice president, automotive retail at J.D. Power

Among automotive internet shoppers who use social media, only 13% indicate that the information posted on social media sites influenced their purchase decision, and only 2% say a social site was the “most useful site” they visited.

“Social media platforms aren’t as useful as automotive shopping websites for automotive information, but they do serve the needs of consumers for unbiased dealer reviews, affirmations from other vehicle owners, accessing automotive-related videos and exchanging ideas and opinions with friends and family members,” –Mike Battaglia.

Slightly more than one-third (34%) of new-vehicle buyers using social media for automotive information post a picture of their new vehicle on a social site. Facebook is by far the most posted site at 88%, followed by Instagram at 21%.

J.D. Power Voice of the Customer

While the use of social media in the automotive research process is increasing, it still does not rival the traffic to auto shopping websites. The study finds that more than nine out of 10 automotive internet shoppers visit at least one automaker’s site during the shopping process, while 84% visit a dealer site and 79% visit a third-party site. On average, internet shoppers visit 10 automotive websites in their shopping process: four automotive manufacturer websites, three third-party websites and three dealership websites.

The most frequently accessed content on automotive shopping websites are model information (89%), vehicle pricing (88%) and photo galleries (81%). Yet, automotive internet shoppers find different types of sites more useful for different reasons. For example, automotive internet shoppers find that automotive brand sites are most useful for their model information, vehicle configurators and photo galleries, whereas dealer websites are found to be most useful for inventory searches, and vehicle pricing and third-party sites are most useful for vehicle ratings/reviews and vehicle comparisons.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Smartphones Surpass Tablets for Automotive Research: More than half (53%) of automotive internet shoppers use a mobile device in their quest for automotive information. For 2017, smartphone usage surpasses tablet usage (37% vs. 33%, respectively). The use of desktop or laptop computers remains most common at 92%, but has been steadily decreasing from 99% in 2012.  Consequently, the proportion of time spent shopping on mobile devices continues to increase, with 33% of the total shopping time now conducted on a mobile device.
  • Third-Party Website Leaders Continue Reign: The three most frequently visited third-party sites have remained consistent since 2012 (listed in alphabetical order): Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book. Among the 37 third-party websites measured in the study, TrueCar experiences the largest increase in site visitation for a second consecutive year.

The 2017 New Autoshopper Study is based on responses from 17,349 purchasers and lessees of new 2016 to 2018 model-year vehicles who used information gathered digitally during the shopping process. The study was fielded from February through June 2017.

See the online press release at

J.D. Power Ratings

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About J.D. Power and Advertising/Promotional Rules

Automotive Executive with over 20 years of experience in developing, designing, marketing, selling and delivering a variety of digital marketing technologies and professional services focused on enhanced marketing, sales and business process implementation. Experienced leader of OEM sponsored digital marketing, advertising, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and sales performance projects. A proven track record in leading technology deployment initiatives designed to deliver objectively measured sales performance results. Primary career focus has been on leveraging the use of information technologies, analytics and business process improvement to support integrated marketing and retail business development within automotive distribution channels. Areas of expertise include creative problem solving, information and data analysis, building trust-based relationships and coaching professionals into a team with common goals and consistent process. Demonstrated and recognized industry leadership in digital marketing content and channel development, concept presentation, internal and external consensus building, market research analysis, resource management, organizational development, strategic planning and business development, tactical technology implementation.

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