Nielsen: Three quarters of car buyers go online for research. Nielsen

Posted by Lucy Halliday On March 18, 2013

Sydney: Monday March 18, 2013 – Australian car buyers are utilising online resources at all stages of their buying process, and almost three quarters (73%) of new and used car buyers use online media as part of their research, according to findings released today by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

Nielsen’s Australian Automotive Report 2012 found online resources are second only to visiting car dealerships among buyers of new cars, and is the most popular resource for buyers of used cars in terms of resources used in the car buying process.

Majority of online new car research takes place on laptops and desktop computers (64% and 62% respectively), however increasingly new car buyers use mobile devices as part of their decision making process (29% use mobile phones), up 15 percentage points from the previous year. Tablet usage grew from five percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012, as tablet ownership continues its sharp ownership increase across Australian households.

“The opportunities held by online media to build awareness, engage potential vehicle purchasers, fulfil their information needs and move car buyers through their decision making process are abundant,” commented Melanie Ingrey, Research Director, Nielsen Media Division, APMEA. “Online sources are unquestionably important in the car buying decision making process, and their influence is growing.”

The home remains the most prevalent place of accessing online resources to support consumers’ car research, and so not surprisingly, television remains an important source for new car buyers (41%), and smart TV’s are increasingly becoming an important component of the decision making resource structure.

“Internet connected TVs have the potential to be used as a shared online device for group viewing and browsing in the living room. This new connected screen (once penetration increases) holds opportunities for marketers and content providers to support ‘family’ or group experiences to move car buyers through their decision making process, particularly as many car purchase decisions are made with the recommendation and input of friends and family.

Among those visiting sites or apps, auto manufacturers’ websites are the most common online source of awareness and research – almost three quarters of new car buyers now make use of these sites (72%)
The use of social media as part of the automotive decision making process is also strong, with 25 percent of both new and used car buyers calling on this form of media to guide and inform their car buying decisions. Among new car buyers who have engaged with organisations on social platforms, 28 percent have engaged with a car brand, up from 18 percent in 2011.

“These findings signal a real interest in peer reviews and feedback from like-minded consumers. They also highlight the continued opportunities for brands to utilise social platforms and spaces as a means of connecting with, and communicating with customers.” commented Ingrey.

The report also found that the use of classifieds sites by used car buyers is close to saturation (97%), while manufacturers’ sites have far more use among new car buyers than used car buyers.

Among used car buyers, Car Sales is by far the most popular site called upon for buying a car with three quarters using the site. It is also the second most commonly visited website among new car buyers (45%). Cars Guide is also popular among both new and used car buyers (49% used; 39% new).

Despite the increase of online and mobile sources, traditional sources of research remain popular tools. Print media as an awareness and discovery mechanism is particularly popular among new car buyers with two-thirds (65%) using print resources at the awareness stage.

Ingrey concluded: “It is clear that consumers are looking to varied sources for information; whether it is websites, forums, Facebook pages or classified sites like CarSales – in addition to the traditional sources such as print media and visiting car dealerships. It’s clear that consumers are now seeking ever more information, and their media consumption is mirroring this trend.”


About the Nielsen Australian Automotive Report 2012
A quantitative research methodology was adopted for this study, utilising an online survey for data collection. A total sample of n=1,030 Australian car buyers and intenders aged 18 years and above was achieved; with n=680 having recently purchased or intending to purchase a (brand) new car and n=350 having recently purchased or intending to purchase a used car. Further detail about the sample follows. Data was collected from 1st – 10th December, 2012.

About Nielsen
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows, and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

Lucy Halliday