Confusing the Consumer Staff

Updated · Mar 13, 2002

Automakers should be honing their e-initiatives advises research firm Jupiter Media Metrix.

Last year Forrester Research chided automakers for running “vast, confusing and unpersuasive sites.” More recently Jupiter investigated the e-attitudes of automakers and found that little had changed.

“Given that most consumers will ultimately purchase an automobile offline, automotive advertisers will see little benefit in attempting to drive sales directly through online advertising,” noted Jupiter. “Instead,” they advised, “automotive advertisers should emphasize awareness and positioning of their brand or particular features of their cars, in order to provide information that can then influence consumers' offline car purchases.”

Jupiter found that consumers spend more time at automotive research sites than at the automaker's sites themselves. “Automotive sites need to coordinate efforts to promote a connection between sites specializing in reviews and vehicle information and sites specializing in providing price quotes, dealer inventories and transaction initiation capabilities,” they counselled. “Consumers are often confounded by an abundance of online offerings that provide confusing information.”

At the heart of the problem, averred Jupiter, was the failure of automakers to properly integrate online and offline channels. “Seventy percent of the online auto sites do not even allow consumers to check the inventory of a particular dealer,” noted Jupiter analysts.

Automakers in general were advised to get their offline and online channels working in closer unison and to focus on connecting customers to cars.

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