Canadians have higher expectations for big-ticket purchases like vehicles and for the automaker websites that play a crucial part in car shopping.
So automakers must constantly improve their websites with appealing images and videos to make a positive impression on critical shoppers.
Those are some of the findings in J.D. Power’s 2014 Canadian Manufacturer Website Evaluation StudySM published May 7.
Overall satisfaction with automotive brand websites in Canada averages 777 on a 1,000-point scale, which is significantly lower than U.S. manufacturer websites at 814.
Canadian manufacturer websites also perform significantly lower than U.S. OEMs across all study measures.
The study measures the usefulness of automotive websites during the new-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content, appearance, navigation and speed. J.D. Ney, manager, automotive research and consulting at J.D. Power, said
“As consumers’ expectations of OEM websites continue to grow, automakers must keep pace by constantly improving their websites.
“Canadian OEMs should look to other automotive and non-automotive websites their shoppers are visiting as a baseline for current expectations and trends in the market.”
Ney went on to say “since all four measures are so strongly correlated, an improvement in appearance can also lead to improvements in a shopper’s impressions of speed, navigation, and information/content.”
Among automotive shoppers on desktop computers who are “delighted” with their experience on a manufacturer’s website (overall satisfaction scores of 901 and higher), 72 per cent are more likely to test-drive a vehicle after visiting a manufacturer’s website, compared with only 20 per cent of “disappointed” shoppers (scores of 550 and lower).
Only 25 per cent of Canadian automotive shoppers use videos when evaluating websites; however, vehicle images satisfaction is significantly higher among shoppers who view videos along with other website imagery than among those who do not view videos (822 vs. 768, respectively).
While shoppers use videos less often (25 per cent) than other tools, exterior images (89 per cent), interior images (81 per cent) and 360° vehicle viewer (46 per cent), satisfaction with vehicle images is higher when shoppers use videos than when using any of the other imagery tools.
While commercials can serve as video content, shoppers who view videos want to see more videos that showcase vehicle features (31 per cent) and videos that demonstrate real-life use (31 per cent).
Toyota ranks highest in the manufacturer rankings (829), followed by Buick (816) and Volvo (801).
J.D. Power said the study is based on responses from 3,120 new-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded through February and March 2014.