Chicago—November 6, 2006—Experian Automotive and Cars.com today announced details of new studies that independently measured the impact of certification on vehicle sales and the consumer awareness of certified programs and their features. According to the findings, Cars.com shoppers who submitted leads to dealerships on certified vehicles had a shorter time to purchase, were more likely to buy within the brand for which they sent their initial lead and were far more likely to upgrade to a new car purchase.
The findings stem from an Experian Automotive analysis of 345,000 email leads sent by Cars.com shoppers between January 2005 and February 2006. Among these shoppers, 66 percent purchased a vehicle within the analysis timeframe. On average, shoppers that sent leads on certified vehicles bought a car seven days faster than non-certified lead senders. In keeping with manufacturers' goals to build brand loyalty, certified lead senders were also 29 percent more likely to stay within the brand for which they sent the lead vs. used car lead senders. Many of these lead senders converted to new car buyers.
"These findings demonstrate the continued strength and value of certified pre-owned (CPO) programs to the manufacturers," said Dave Nemtuda, director of AutoCheck Solutions for Experian Automotive. "In fact, a CPO lead is 75 percent more likely to convert into a new vehicle sale than a non-CPO used vehicle lead."
Cars.com also surveyed online used car shoppers to gauge their awareness, understanding and consideration of certified programs and their features. While only a small percentage of shoppers were specifically shopping for a certified vehicle, 70 percent of used car shoppers on the site would consider buying a CPO vehicle if it met their needs. Among these shoppers, there was a high level of awareness of certified program features, including inspections, vehicle history reports and warranties. Shoppers also rated these features as the most important.
Reflecting the opportunity for continued certified education in the marketplace, shoppers were less familiar with certified features such as roadside assistance and incentives. There was a considerable disparity between consumers' awareness of these certified benefits and the importance shoppers placed on them. For example, while nearly half of shoppers cited the importance of incentives, only 21 percent associated incentives with certified programs.
"While we have come a long way in building general awareness and consideration of CPO vehicles, we see continued opportunity for manufacturers to educate potential buyers of the many benefits to buying a certified used vehicle," said Kevin Considine, Cars.com's vice president of advertising. "By increasing awareness of specific program features, there is a distinct opportunity to bring more shoppers into the certified consideration set."
Car shoppers responding to the survey attributed certification awareness to three primary sources: third-party websites, manufacturer television ads and Web sites, and the dealerships. Among them, third-party and manufacturer resources proved most effective at building awareness of specific program features and benefits.
"The Internet provides an ideal forum for manufacturers to educate consumers about their brand and the myriad CPO program features and benefits," said Considine. "As car shoppers look to make well-informed buying decisions, they often require more information than can be conveyed in a 30-second TV or radio spot."
Partnered with more than 200 leading metro newspapers, television stations and their websites, Cars.com is the most comprehensive destination for those looking to buy or sell a new or used car. The site lists more than 1.8 million vehicles from 12,000 dealer customers, classified advertisers and private parties to offer consumers the best selection of new and used cars online, as well as the content, tools and advice to support their shopping experience. Recently selected by Forbes.com as a Best of the Web site for car shopping, Cars.com combines powerful inventory search tools and new-car configuration with pricing information, photo galleries, buying guides, side-by-side comparison tools, original editorial content and reviews to help millions of car shoppers connect with sellers each month.
Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, which is owned by leading media companies, including Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).
Experian Automotive delivers information solutions to manufacturers, dealers, finance and insurance companies, and consumers. Experian helps automotive clients increase customer loyalty, target and win new business, and make better lending and vehicle purchase decisions. Its National Vehicle Database, housing more than 500 million vehicles, along with Experian's credit, consumer and business information assets, meets the industry's growing demand for an integrated information source. Experian's advanced decision support services help clients turn this information into improved business results. Experian technology supports several top automotive web sites including eBay Motors, Yahoo! Autos, CarsDirect.com, CarMax.com and NADAguides.com. For more information on Experian Automotive and its suite of solutions, visit our web site at www.experianautomotive.com.