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CAR DEALERS RISK LOSING CUSTOMERS IF THEY FAIL TO POST PRICES ONLINE
New Study Shows 85% of Online Auto Shoppers Leave if They Can't Find Prices

CINCINNATI - October 17, 2000 - Availability of pricing information continues to be the single most important item online car shoppers want from car dealers' Web sites, according to new research released today by Friedman-Swift Associates, a Cincinnati-based market research firm, and The Cobalt Group (NASDAQ: CBLT), a leading provider of e-business products and services to the automotive market.

"About 83 percent of car shoppers said prices of new and used vehicles were the most important items a car dealer's Web site should display," says Judy George, senior vice president of Friedman-Swift Associates. "Almost 70 percent wanted to see comparisons between Manufacturers' Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and dealer invoice prices as well."

Consumers' desire to have auto dealers post prices on their Web sites is so strong that 85% of shoppers indicated they would shop somewhere else if they didn't find prices listed on a dealership Web site, George notes.

Following price information, consumers voiced strong preferences that car dealers' Web sites also contain:

  • Full descriptions of new and used vehicles: 75 percent rated as very important.
  • Options available on a new vehicle: 74 percent rated as very important.
  • Photos of new and used vehicles: 67 percent rated as very important.
  • Current inventory lists of new vehicles: 65 percent rated as very important.
  • Current inventory lists of used vehicles: 55 percent rated as very important.
  • Side-by-side vehicle comparisons: 50 percent rated as very important.

At the very bottom of consumers' preferences were links to auto insurance information, which only 23 percent rated as very important, and real-time chats with dealership personnel, which garnered only a 22 percent rating.

"In all of Cobalt's automotive e-business best practices training and consulting, we recommend that dealers post pricing and inventory availability on their Web sites," says John Holt, president and CEO of The Cobalt Group. "Dealers' Web sites are an online extension of their dealership and the dealers who embrace consumers' demands for pricing and inventory online will by far outperform those who do not."

Friedman-Swift's research was based on interviews with 1,439 online shoppers who visited The Cobalt Group's DealerNet.com car shopping site in June, July and August 2000, and has a margin of error of 2.6 percent. Nearly half-47 percent-of the online shoppers in this study plan to buy a car in the next six months.

This National Dealer Web Site study is the second research study conducted jointly between Friedman-Swift Associates and The Cobalt Group.

ABOUT FRIEDMAN-SWIFT ASSOCIATES

Friedman-Swift Associates, based in Cincinnati, OH, is a leading provider of automotive marketing research, working with auto dealers, manufacturers and advertising agencies since 1979. Dedicated to helping auto dealers and manufacturers serve consumers better, the company has pioneered proprietary research that helps dealers understand the needs of both Internet and traditional automotive shoppers.

Friedman-Swift has conducted over 4,000 automotive research studies. The firm's clients include a majority of the largest automobile dealer groups in the US, and most dealerships who lead in sales performance for each auto manufacturer.

ABOUT THE COBALT GROUP

The Cobalt GroupTM (NASDAQ: CBLT), headquartered in Seattle, is a leading provider of Internet-based products and services for the automotive industry. Cobalt helps dealers, dealer groups and automobile manufacturers harness the power of the Internet to realize new efficiencies, win new prospects and better serve their customers.

With approximately 6,000 dealer Web site clients, over 10,000 dealers using its parts locating system, and relationships with 15 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 MotorPlace.comTM (www.motorplace.com), a business-to-business vertical portal for the automotive industry; DealerNet® (www.dealernet.com), one of the best-known automotive destination sites on the Web; and PartsVoice® (www.partsvoice.com), a leading OEM auto parts locating and data management service. The Cobalt Group also owns IntegraLink Corporation, the auto industry's premier provider of advanced data collection and reporting services. Cobalt offers Web site services that are endorsed by the National Automobile Dealers Association. The Cobalt Group has offices in Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Detroit, MI; Columbus, OH; and Austin, TX. For more information, please visit The Cobalt Group at www.cobaltgroup.com or call 1-800-909-8244.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Judy George, Friedman-Swift Associates
513-772-9204, ext. 122 (office)
513-417-6666 mobile
judy@friedmanswift.com


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