Auto manufacturers can gain a significant advantage in the brand loyalty/customer satisfaction department if they use online shopping tools on their websites, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study—Summer.

In its 17th year, this semiannual study measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures (in order of importance): Information/content, appearance, speed and navigation. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.
Overall customer satisfaction with auto manufacturer websites is 807 points.

According to the study, consumer satisfaction with those websites is driven mostly by the quality of the content. More than half (57%) of shoppers who are delighted with their website experience (overall satisfaction scores of 901 and above) indicate they are more likely to test drive a vehicle after visiting the site. In comparison, only 16% of those who are disappointed with their experience (scores of 500 or below) indicate they're more likely to test drive a vehicle.

“The content on manufacturer websites must embody three key attributes: It must be easy to access. It must provide sufficient detail to answer shoppers’ questions. And it must help tell the brand story,” said Arianne Walker, Senior Director of Marketing Analytics at J.D. Power. “There's a direct connection between manufacturers that utilize their digital showroom effectively and satisfied shoppers who then become buyers. Gen Y[1] shoppers—soon to be the largest group of new-vehicle shoppers—use these tools at higher rates than Boomers, signifying that manufacturers must continue to invest in and improve website tools in response to shifts in the car-buying population.”

Here are some key findings from the study:

Positive Experience Drives Improved Brand Image Perception: The study finds that, through pre/post brand perception measurements, 40% of shoppers have an improved impression of the brand after their website experience. A positive website experience helps drive key brand qualities. Even shoppers’ perceptions that are difficult to change, such as reputation and reliability, improve after they experience a brand’s website.

Gen Y Shoppers Like It More: These shoppers tend to show a more positive perception of a brand after the website visit compared with Boomers.

Ranking the Three Highest-Performing Sites: Land Rover (834) ranks highest in overall manufacturer website satisfaction, followed by Jaguar (833) and Mercedes-Benz (831).

The 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study—Summer was based on responses from more than 9,500 new-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle.

 Manufacturer Website Ranking 
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Land Rover 834
Jaguar  833
Mercedes-Benz  831
BMW  828
Fiat  826
Cadillac  825
Infiniti  825
Jeep  821
Acura  819
Audi  817
Mitsubishi  815
Porsche  815
Ram  815
Lexus  814
Lincoln  811
Smart  810
MINI  808
Industry Average  807
Volkswagen  805
Hyundai  804
Dodge 802
Chrysler 798
Volvo  797
GMC  794
Honda  794
Nissan  793
Mazda  791
Toyota  784
Chevrolet  783
Ford  782
Subaru  782
Kia  781
Buick  779

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