Even though gasoline prices have dropped significantly from mid-summer highs, consumers are still feeling their pinch, according to a recent Burst Media study. The December 2006 study of nearly 14,000 online consumers (471 in-market in Q1 2007) found that 33.4 percent of respondents say the price of gasoline impacted their decision to purchase or lease a new or used automobile. This finding is nearly unchanged from a July 2006 Burst reading of 32.1 percent for the same question. Interestingly, gasoline prices have had a near off-setting impact on the marketplace, with 26.8 percent of those not in-market saying they have delayed a purchase because of gasoline prices and 20.1 percent of those in-market saying they have accelerated their purchase plans.
Gasoline price impact
The Burst study found that two-thirds (66.6 percent) of in-market respondents say the price of gasoline has impacted the types of automobile models they will consider purchasing or leasing. This impact is seen in nearly all in-market household income (HHI) segments-- it is only among respondents reporting HHI of $100,000 or greater that a majority (53.8 percent) say gasoline prices have had no impact on the types of vehicles they will consider purchasing or leasing.
Internet is the go-to place for model information
Nearly one-third (31.9 percent) of in-market respondents say the internet is the best source of information on automobile models they might consider purchasing or leasing. The internet is followed distantly by friends and family (14.3 percent), local auto dealers (12.9 percent), automobile company websites (9.1 percent), magazines (7.3 percent), television (6.0 percent), local newspapers (5.2 percent), radio (1.5 percent) and national newspapers (1.2 percent).
All household income segments cite the internet as the best source of automobile model information; none more so than the $75,000-$99,999 segment, of which nearly half (46.6 percent) say the internet is the best source of automobile information.
Four out of five (79.2 percent) in-market respondents say they will use the internet to research automobile models they might purchase or lease. Yet, usage of the internet will not be restricted to only those who cite it as the best source of automobile information. In fact 71.3 percent of respondents who cited an information source other than the internet as the best place to gather information say they will still use it to gather automobile model information. Pricing (65.1 percent), fuel economy (52.7 percent) and safety information (50.6 percent) are the most popular automotive information types sought online.
The view on video
The Burst survey found that three out of five (60.8 percent) in-market respondents actively view video content on the web. And viewing online video content is not an activity restricted to youth. In fact, the Burst study found that older age segments (55 years and older) were as likely to view online video content as the youngest age segment (18-24 years).
Online automotive video content is popular-- the Burst study found that seven out of ten (69.9 percent) in-market respondents who view online video say they have viewed online automotive content. Men are significantly more likely than women to say they have viewed online automotive video content-- 75.0 percent versus 63.9 percent, respectively. Additionally, the likelihood of viewing online automotive video content increases as household income increases.
Moreover, in-market respondents who have not viewed online automotive video content are nonetheless receptive to it. In fact, three out of five (62.6 percent) say they would watch online video content about an automobile they are considering a purchase or lease, if it was presented to them.
Does online creative make the grade?
In our survey, in-market respondents were also asked their opinion of automobile companies' online advertising campaigns. Only one-half (51.0 percent) thought the campaigns they could recall were "cutting edge" or at least "better than what is on television or in newspapers and magazines." Interestingly, more than one-third (39.1 percent) of in-market respondents thought the online campaigns they recall seeing were "recycling" what was being done in other media, and 9.8 percent say the online campaigns were "worse" than what was being done on television, or in newspapers and magazines.
In-market respondents who have viewed online automotive video content do have a higher regard for automobile advertising than those who have not viewed automotive video content. In fact nearly three-quarters (64.1 percent) of respondents who have viewed online automotive video content describe online automotive advertising as "cutting edge" or "better than what is on television or in newspapers and magazines, but not cutting edge."
Without a doubt the internet is the cornerstone of the consumer's quest for information on automobile models they might consider purchasing or leasing. Internet websites with reviews, consumer forums and images afford consumers a wealth of information. Add video content to that mix and the internet becomes a supercharged consumer resource. The Burst study points out that consumers are clearly looking for automotive content online. And importantly, internet video provides automotive marketers with one more way to deliver deep and engaging content to consumers looking for relevant information.
Chuck Moran is manager of market research at Burst Media. .