While automotive Web sites continue to gain traction among Internet users inthe United States, data released Wednesday by Jupiter MMXI found that European consumersare increasingly steering toward such sites to research auto purchases, get directions and secure car loans and insurance policies.
“The Internet is clearly an established source of information for car buyersin Europe,” said Jupiter MMXI analyst Staffan Engdegard. “This is veryimportant from an advertising perspective.”
Jupiter MMXI said that the number of Europeans visiting auto-related sites morethan doubled between April 2000 and March 2001.
Similarly, the study concluded thatthe reach of auto sites in Europe’s largest Internet markets also doubled during the same period.
Engdegard noted that the automotive industry is one of the biggestadvertisers in traditional media channels, such as television and print.
“This information shows that car manufacturers must target the ever-increasing number of Europeans Internet users in order to influence theironline, and more important, offline car purchase decision,” Engdegard said.
Among individual countries, Germany registered the greatest reach for autosites, growing from 6.8 percent last April to 15.3 percent in March 2001,with 1.9 million unique visitors for the month.
The United Kingdom placed second, withreach growing from 6.9 percent to 12.6 percent during the same period. Morethan 1.7 million unique UK users visited auto sites last month.
In France, the reach of auto Web sites jumped from 3.8 percent to 10.3 percent, with 809,000unique users.
In all of these markets, Jupiter MMXI found that the audience for automotivesites in March 2001 was more than 70 percent male, and fell primarily into the age bracket of 25- to 34-year-olds.
Popular sites in the UK included Autotrader.co.uk, Theaa.co.uk, RAC.co.ukand Jamjar.com.
In Germany, Norway, and Spain, car manufacturer Web sitessaw heavy traffic. The homepages of German carmanufacturers Volkswagen, GM subsidiary Opel, BMW and Mercedes-Benz wereamong the most popular destinations.
U.S. Internet car sales have suffered from a massive gap between e-shoppers who browse and those who actually purchase online. A recent Gartner Group study, for example, found that while 45 percent of U.S. households used the Internet to research a car purchase, 3 percent bought over the Web.
However, a report released last week by CNW Marketing Research found thatwhile more than half of American car buyers compare car prices on theInternet before entering the showroom, the prices displayed on the mostpopular Web sites often run hundreds of dollars higher than the actualsticker price.
In a survey of 10 Internet car-selling Web sites, the average vehicle pricelisted was $630 above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, the studysaid. By comparison, prices were overstated by an average of $444 last year.