78% of Americans aged 18-64 agree that online reviews help them decide whether or not to purchase from a specific dealership. This includes roughly one-third who “very much agree”, according to survey results released in December by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX).
Compared to the global average of 69%, American car buyers are 13% more likely to agree that online dealership reviews influence their selection of which car dealer to do business with.
In fact, the Ipsos results might even underestimate how influential both dealership and vehicle reviews are to Americans. An online survey of 407 US adults by EXPO, also released in December, reveals that 98% of respondents found user-generated reviews helpful when doing online research related to their shopping for a new or used vehicle, and which car dealer to purchase from.
Returning to the Ipsos results, certain segments of the population appear more reliant on reviews than others. Within the US, women are almost 50% more likely than men to say they very much agree that online dealership reviews help them decide which car dealer to make a vehicle purchase from (38% vs. 26%). There is also a strong age dynamic at play. Specifically, the 18-34 group is far more likely than the 35-49 and 50-64 sets to very much agree that online dealership reviews influence them (44%, 32%, and 19%, respectively). When factoring in those who “somewhat agree,” the gaps are less pronounced, with 84% of the 18-34 bracket, 82% of the 35-49 bracket, and 68% of the 50-64 group agreeing at least somewhat that they are influenced by reviews when selecting a dealership to buy from or which make and model of vehicle to purchase.
Influences Vary by Household Income, Education Level
Interestingly, online business (including car dealers) and product reviews appear to be more of an influence to wealthier Americans than to their lower-income counterparts. Survey respondents from high-income households were 23% more likely than those from low-income households to agree (at least somewhat) that online reviews help them decide whether or not to buy a vehicle from a specific dealership (81% vs. 66%).
Similarly, respondents with a high degree of educational attainment were about 11% more likely than those with a low education level to rely on customer generated online reviews of both vehicles and car dealerships (83% vs. 75%).