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Survey Shows Consumers Rate Car Pricing As Most Important Information on Dealer Web Sites

CINCINNATI -- Jan. 14, 2000 -- Many auto dealer Web sites meet consumer expectations, but some dealers fail to deliver all the information needed to make a purchase decision, according to research results released today by Friedman-Swift Associates, an automotive market research firm in Cincinnati, in conjunction with The Cobalt Group (NASDAQ: CBLT), a leading provider of Internet solutions for the automotive industry.

"Far and away, the hot button for shoppers is price," said Judy George, senior vice president of Friedman-Swift and coordinator of the research study, which surveyed 934 car shoppers. "An overwhelming majority of the shoppers, 92 percent, said that prices of vehicles in inventory were the most important items of information to include on dealer Web sites."

Most shoppers, about 86 percent of those surveyed, said they did get vehicle prices on dealer Web sites. But fewer (65 percent) said they received an online price quote for a specific vehicle, a key factor in completing the purchase process, George said.

"When shoppers e-mailed dealers for more information, most dealers (55 percent) responded within 24 hours," George said. "But 19 percent of dealers never responded to shoppers' inquiries at all."

These Web surfers were serious about buying, George added. Of the total sample, 77 percent intended to purchase a vehicle in the next year, and 40 percent planned a purchase in the next two months.

"These research findings can help dealers build better customer service," said George. "Many shoppers want to gather as much preliminary information online as possible before making a purchase decision. Dealers who pay attention to what shoppers want will do well, but those who don't risk losing both immediate and future customers."

The research study surveyed 934 consumers who visited Cobalt's page ( in November and December 1999. The results of the study will be presented at the 2000 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention in Orlando later this month. The research findings have a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.

"To our knowledge, this is the first large-scale consumer research study that evaluates dealer Web sites," said Suzanne Sellers, senior business development manager at The Cobalt Group. "Before this study, most information about what people wanted from dealer Web sites was at best uncertain. Now we have a clearer picture of what consumers are looking for and how dealers can improve their performance."

Key findings from the research study will be posted at


Friedman-Swift Associates, established in Cincinnati in 1979, provides marketing research services for thousands of automotive dealers, dealer associations and automotive manufacturers. The firm's clients include 24 of the top 30 dealer groups in the U.S. and almost all dealerships that are ranked number one in each line in Ward's Dealer Business listings.


The Cobalt Group (NASDAQ: CBLT), based in Seattle, is a leading provider of Internet-based automotive products and services. Through Web development and hosting, data management and online car referral services, Cobalt helps dealers, dealer groups and automobile manufacturers harness the power of the Internet to better serve their customers.

With approximately 5,000 dealer Web site clients, over 10,000 dealers using its parts locating system, and relationships with 16 automotive manufacturers and more than 50 of the 100 largest dealer groups in the United States, Cobalt is one of the leading technology companies serving the automotive industry. Cobalt operates DealerNet® (, one of the best-known automotive destination sites on the Web, and PartsVoice® (, a leading OEM auto parts locating and data management service. Cobalt offers Web site services that are endorsed by the National Automobile Dealers Association. For more information, please visit The Cobalt Group at

Judy George
513-772-9204, ext. 122 (office)
513-417-6666 (mobile)

Friedman-Swift  |  110 Boggs Lane Suite 200  |  Cincinnati, Ohio 45246  |  513-772-9200