As the 2012 automotive models continue to roll out throughout 2011, consumers in the market for a new vehicle are increasingly searching online for automotive makes and models. Online users have increased their share of overall vehicle make and model searches by 37% for the 4 weeks sending October 8, 2011 as compared to the same time frame 2 years ago.
Experian Hitwise and Experian Automotive have been working closely together to bridge the gap between consumers’ automotive interests online and their offline behaviors. During the second quarter of 2011, Ford was the most searched automotive manufacturer brand, with nearly 13% market share of branded automotive searches as compared to 2nd ranked Dodge with 8.4%. Ford also received the greatest number of new car registrations during the same time period, indicating strong interest online along with actual purchases offline.
There was much greater movement in branded searches during the second quarter among other manufacturers, with Kia, Cadillac, BMW, Volkswagen, and Mazda all moving up in rank by 2 spots or more. Searches for Kia showed strong performance in Q2 and jumped two places from 8th to 6th in branded searches, the 12th position last year. Additionally, there was an increase of 18% in new vehicle registrations for Kia in Q2 from the previous quarter.
When comparing market share of branded searches online with new car registration data, the market share both online and offline closely align for most vehicle brands. For Mazda, BMW, Kia, Subaru, and Jeep, the gap between market share of branded searches and market share of new car registrations were minimal, indicating that searches precluded actual purchase. Kia searches accounted for about 4% of the branded manufacturer searches and just over 4% of the new cars registered in the second quarter. The share of new vehicle registrations for Chevrolet and Toyota were both higher than the share of online searches.
The vehicle makes that received the highest relative change in new car registration for the second quarter also increased their share of brand searches substantially, with the exception of a few niche brands such as Lamborghini and Mini. Fiat experienced the largest increase in new car registrations in conjunction with a 72% increase in branded searches in the second quarter versus the previous quarter after their launch of the Fiat 500 in the US.
Thanks to Cristina Bell, Senior Analyst on the Custom Data & Analytics team for today’s analysis.