A recent Maritz Research New Vehicle Customer Study revealed that the salesperson at the dealership is still the most influential source of information for car buyers. In fact, salespeople were ranked significantly higher in 2011 than in the past five years.
In the largest automotive study in North America, Maritz asked customers what sources of information they found most influential in their buying decisions. The top sources included: 1. Salesperson at the dealership (21.9%), 2. Family/ friend/ word of mouth (18.7%) and 3. Consumer guides (18.4%). Dealer's, manufacturer's and third-party websites (including social media sites) combined were cited as the most influential source by only 15 percent of customers.
These numbers only support what we've been telling clients about great social media management: It's about building a community, not pitching your products or services.
The real masters at social media marketing use Facebook and other channels to build and engage an online community that will become their brand ambassadors — "word-of-mouth" advocates for their products or services. Maritz reported that recommendations from family, friends and word of mouth ranked statistically higher in the latest study than in past years.
“What our family and friends say or recommend to us is important,” said Chris Travell, vice president and strategic consultant for Maritz Research. “Every manufacturer needs to have a well-defined social media strategy ... we still need to remember the importance of human interaction in buying a car.”
“People buy from people.”
[Source: "New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS)." Maritz Research. 30 May 2012. Web. 1 Jun. 2012.]