SEMA eNews Vol. 10, No. 42, October 18, 2007

BLOGS, FORUMS AND USER-GENERATED CONTENT EXERT GROWING INFLUENCE ON SPECIALTY-EQUIPMENT SALES

The so-called "Web 2.0" evolution of the Internet now affects the research and purchase decisions of those in the market for a new car, says a recent J.D. Power and Associates report. Nearly 69% of new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet to research their options will end up reading one or more forms of user-generated content—blogs, forums, photo-sharing sites—in their purchasing decisions. Consumer-generated content increasingly pops up on a buyer's radar as a new way to gather what is perceived as unbiased information.

Consumer ratings and reviews are said to be the most popular forms of consumer-generated content online, with 64% of respondents reporting usage, according to the J.D. Power report. Shoppers consider forums, blogs and enthusiast/question-and-answer/photo-sharing sites helpful, but use them less than consumer reviews and ratings.

SEMA market research reveals a similar trend in the specialty-equipment industry. Results from SEMA’s 2007 Automotive Lifestyles survey show that 52% of automotive enthusiasts turn to manufacturer websites to find information about custom parts and accessories prior to making a purchase. Coming in a close second are forums, with 45% of the respondents saying they visit these types of sites.

Internet retail store sites (35% of the vote) followed, although just 19% said that they actually purchase their products at online retail stores. Only 14% said they purchased over half of their specialty equipment at manufacturer websites. Enthusiasts research their purchases at manufacturer websites, but will sometimes turn to online retail stores to make the actual purchase.

Approximately 3,000 consumers were surveyed, largely subscribers to 21 different automotive magazines, including Hot Rod, Super Street and Motor Trend, and visitors to websites hosted by the individual magazines.

Sources: SEMA Research & Information Center; J.D. Power and Associates (October 10, 2007): As Automotive Manufacturers Shift Marketing Dollars Online, New-Vehicle Shoppers Follow (J.D. Power and Associates press release, courtesy of PR Newswire)

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