AUSTIN, Texas — Ratings, reviews, photos and videos created by customers — collectively known as “consumer-generated content” (CGC) — have become a “critical” component in dealership branding and vehicle sales, according to new research from Bazaarvoice.
“In many industries we work with — like consumer electronics, home improvement, apparel, etc. — CGC is widely adopted,” Brendan Yancy, solutions marketing manager for Bazaarvoice, told Auto Dealer Today. “Ratings and reviews about these product categories are pretty ubiquitous, but I think the auto industry is just scratching the surface in terms of embracing CGC.”
The firm’s analysts compiled recent research and statistics specific to the auto retail segment. Released in September, their report, “Harnessing the Power of Consumer-Generated Content to Drive Your Brand and Business,” finds that in-market car shoppers are three times more likely to trust content posted by a sold customer than any brand messaging.
“There is a severe trust deficit with auto buyers, so providing success stories from other customers like them will boost their confidence in visiting a dealership,” Yancy said.
The report also cites key stats generated by Google, J.D. Power and Associates, Forrester and Millward Brown, including:
- 68% of car buyers read ratings and reviews before making their purchase decision
- 53% of car buyers reference reviews via mobile device
- 32% of car buyers read reviews during their dealership visits
“We were surprised to find that one-third of consumers are still consulting their mobile device while on the lot during a dealer visit,” Yancy said. “This means that the customer has already done extensive online research to find a vehicle model and dealership close to them, and even though they are about to make their purchase, they are still seeking that eleventh-hour validation from other people like them.”
The study also found the appeal of CGC is not limited by age or income level. Bazaarvoice’s analysts found the most “significant” interest among consumers ages 25–34 (36%), followed by ages 18–24 (35%) and 35–44 (32%). Those making $150,000 or more in annual salary showed the most significant interest (48%), followed by those making less than $25,000 (43%) and those making between $75,000 and $149,999 (38%).
By actively requesting and promoting CGC from sold customers, the report concludes, OEMs and dealers can build trust and boost natural search traffic, time-on-site, page views and conversion events.
Yancy said the fact that a new vehicle is among consumers’ highest researched and highest consideration purchases makes auto retail a natural fit for trusted content in digital marketing channels. He urged dealers who are new to CGC to start by focusing on their own websites.
“Your website is one of the first destinations a car buyer will visit while making their purchase decision, so if you don’t think your website matters, think again,” he said. “A large part of making your website relevant is by providing authentic consumer-generated content that car buyers will trust. If I were a dealer, I would make sure to harness the experiences and feedback of my previous customers to sell on my behalf.”