IRVINE, Calif. — Today, Kelley Blue Book unveiled a new design for its website and a new shopping experience for car buyers, both of which center on the vehicle information site’s newest pricing feature: Price Advisor.

The company piloted the layout and new tool, which provides new-car shoppers with a range-based pricing layout, in Chicago over the past months. Jared Rowe, president of KBB, told F&I and Showroom that consumers who are using the tool only want a fair price, not the bottom price.

“With our design, what we found was 51 percent of the consumers would be willing to pay at or above fair purchase price with the visual display you see [on our site],” Rowe said. “And when you ask the consumers why, they say they just want to stay in the range.”

When users select a vehicle make and model, they are directed to a landing page that features the Price Advisor tool. The tool displays three different pricing zones: white, green and red. The green zone is the New Car Fair Market Range, which reflects current market conditions for a selected vehicle in the buyer’s area. It’s updated weekly using new-car transaction data within the user’s ZIP code, and adjusts for local market conditions and seasonal trends.

The white zone represents pricing that falls below the Fair Market Range, usually due to a retiring model year or an unusually competitive market. The red zone signifies a price that’s above the Fair Market Range. 

“Once consumers get to this point, and once they feel good about the market context, then what they want to do is explore who to build a relationship with, and who has the inventory that they're looking for,” Rowe explained. “So we've incorporated that into this design as well.”

Below the Price Advisor tool, users will find a list of local dealerships that participate in KBB’s classifieds program and have the chosen vehicle in stock. Shoppers can then select one of the listed links to access a dealership’s microsite, which that display its consumer rating, inventory, amenities and specials. Rowe said this connection was made because consumers want to explore a dealership before searching its inventory. On average, he added, KBB customers view five to six dealership pages.

“What we find is, 86 percent of the consumers who go down this path are now ready to connect with a dealer,” he added.

KBB currently has a relationship with DealerRater to provide dealership ratings on its microsites, but in the near future, dealers will be able to select the ratings content they want displayed on their page. “We view this as really the dealer's opportunity to put their best foot forward and merchandise themselves,” Rowe said.

The vehicle information site also highlighted a new feature it launched in July. It gives vehicle OEMs more control over what consumers see and read when accessing their KBB landing pages via a mobile device. Manufacturers can upload images and videos to more closely align their online and offline campaigns. Both Toyota and Lexus have already customized their mobile pages.

Rowe believes that once OEMs and dealers build value on the site, the price of the vehicle becomes secondary to customers.

“We’re not in the guaranteed price business here at Kelley,” he said. “We’re trying to get to a place where price doesn’t dominate the dialogue.”