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Reputation Management: 80 Percent of Car Buyers Now Influenced by Online Customer Reviews*

8 in 10 American Car Buyers Report Online Reviews Influence Their Selection of a Dealership and the vehicle they purchase*

78% of Americans aged 18-64 agree that online reviews help them decide whether or not to purchase from a specific business, including dealerships. This includes roughly one-third who "very much agree", according to survey results released in December by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX).

Compared to the global average of 69%, American consumers, including car buyers are 13% more likely to agree that online reviews, including dealership reviews posted by customers, influence their selection of products and retailers, including which car dealer to do business with.

*These statements represent the firm beliefs of the author (Ralph Paglia) and are supported by the data cited in this article and many other reports including research done by and The Cobalt Group.

In fact, the Ipsos results might even underestimate how influential both business (dealership) and product (vehicle) reviews are to Americans. An online survey of 407 US adults by EXPO, also released in December, reveals that 98% of respondents found user-generated reviews helpful when doing online research related to their shopping for all products, including new or used vehicles, and which local retailer (including car dealers) to purchase from.

Returning to the Ipsos results, certain segments of the population appear more reliant on reviews than others. Within the US, women are almost 50% more likely than men to say they very much agree that online reviews and ratings, including car dealership reviews, help them decide which retailer (car dealer) and product (vehicle) to buy (38% vs. 26%). There is also a strong age dynamic at play. Specifically, the 18-34 group is far more likely than the 35-49 and 50-64 sets to very much agree that product and business reviews, including online dealership reviews influence them (44%, 32%, and 19%, respectively). When factoring in those who “somewhat agree,” the gaps are less pronounced, with 84% of the 18-34 bracket, 82% of the 35-49 bracket, and 68% of the 50-64 group agreeing at least somewhat that they are influenced by reviews when selecting products and retailers (including car dealerships) to buy from, including make and model of vehicle to purchase.

Influences Vary by Household Income, Education Level

Interestingly, online business (including car dealers) and product reviews appear to be more of an influence to wealthier Americans than to their lower-income counterparts. Survey respondents from high-income households were 23% more likely than those from low-income households to agree (at least somewhat) that online reviews help them decide whether or not to buy a particular product (including vehicles) from a specific retailer, including car dealerships (81% vs. 66%).

Similarly, respondents with a high degree of educational attainment were about 11% more likely than those with a low education level to rely on customer generated online reviews of products and businesses, including both vehicles and car dealerships (83% vs. 75%).

Asians Highly Influenced by Reviews; Europeans Not So Much

The Ipsos study examines the attitudes of consumers across 24 countries, and finds that those most open to being influenced by online reviews are almost all Asian countries. Turkey (a Eurasian country) sports the highest proportion of online consumers agreeing that they rely on product and business reviews, at 92%. That includes an impressive 58% who very much agree that those reviews help them decide which products to buy, and what retailers to buy from. Turkey was the only country in which a majority very much agreed with the influence of product and business reviews – the next highest was India, with 44%.

After Turkey, a high proportion of consumers in South Korea (89%), India (87%), Indonesia (86%), and China (82%) are influenced to some degree by online product and business reviews.

Those high figures contrast with countries at the other end of the spectrum, whose consumers appear to largely ignore online product and business reviews. Those countries – exclusively European – include France (38% at least somewhat agreeing), Belgium (39%), Sweden (43%), and Germany (47%).

Regionally, the Asia-Pacific sports the highest percentage of consumers relying on product and business reviews (80%), while Europe has the least (56%).

Other Findings:

  • Reliance on product and business reviews is so high in Turkey that an impressive 79% of business owners surveyed there very much agree that online reviews of a business influence their own purchase decisions.
  • In Belgium, just 29% of women surveyed agree at least somewhat that they use product or business reviews to help them make purchase decisions, compared to 49% of Belgian men. That means that American women are almost 3 times as likely as Belgian women (83% vs. 29%) to consider online reviews when making a product purchase or deciding which retailer to make that purchase from.

About the Data: The Ipsos data is based on a weighted sample size of 12,000, from an online survey conducted from October 2-16 across 24 countries, with adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and 16-64 in all other countries. The US data is based on a sample size of 500.

Data Source:

Views: 1804

Tags: 80 Percent, Car Buyers, Dealership Reviews, Influenced, Online Customer Reviews, Online Reviews, Reputation Management


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Comment by Brian Bennington on December 30, 2012 at 5:47pm

Hey Ralph, My best to you and yours for the Holidays.  When I saw the title of this article (8 in 10 American Car Buyers Report Online reviews....), I was very interested to read it.  Then, I noticed car buyers weren't mentioned anywhere in the copy.  Then, I went to the marketingcharts site and it didn't mention auto buyers either.  Nor did the OTX site.  The "weighted" stats on the study indicated 12,000 people surveyed from 24 countries with just 500 from the US. Honestly, it looks like you're "reaching" on this one.

As to auto buyers' influences , the May, '12 Maritz Research New Vehicle Study (the nation's largest with 60,000+ American auto buyers surveyed), they indicated the total third-party website influence factor was 6.4% with an added "less than 1% factor" for Facebook and Twitter.  That's their numbers, not mine.

Your ADM site, I find, is very informative, and I hate to see you weaken its credibility.  It looks like you'll "squeeze the stats until they'll say anything."  I know you have an agenda, as everyone does–except me (just kidding!), but I don't think this should be the place for it. Be it 8% or 80%, what makes it valuable is your accuracy. (I'm still reeling from your "John Reed" turnaround.)    

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