Car Buying: Millennials Trust Online Customer Reviews More Than Opinions of Friends and Family

Millennials Trust Dealership and Car Buying Purchase Recommendations to Customer Reviews (UGC) Over the Opinions of Friends and Family...

51% of Millennials (born between roughly 1977 and 1995) say that recommendations from strangers through User-Generated Content (UGC) on a dealership or business website is most likely to influence their opinion when making a purchase... Compared to 49% who reported that recommendations from friends and family are more influential, according to [pdf] survey results released in January 2012 by Bazaarvoice.

By contrast, Boomers (born between roughly 1946 and 1964) are almost twice as likely to favor recommendations from friends and family over UGC (66% vs. 34%).

UGC Influences Most Millennials

Data from “Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands” indicates that 84% of Millennials report that UGC has some (59%) or a lot (25%) of influence on what make and model they buy, as well as the dealership they buy a from... This compares to 70% of Boomers. In fact, only 3% of Millennials say that UGC has no influence on their purchase decisions. Millennials’ propensity to trust UGC is related to their perceptions of its value: roughly two-thirds believe it offers a more honest and genuine view online than other sources of information, and 86% say it represents a good quality indicator. In fact, when asked which information they would be most likely to trust when trying to find out more about a dealership, vehicle or service department, 51% cited UGC... This is far ahead of trust for information on the dealership’s website (16%), news media articles about the dealership or vehicle (11%), advertising (6%), or Facebook posts or tweets from official car company or dealership accounts (6%).


That may be why they are not willing to complete a range of purchases without first consulting UGC, including major electronics (44%), cars (40%), hotels (39%), and travel accommodations (32%), credit cards, and insurance (both at 29%).

Millennials Suspicious of Brand Motives

Almost three-quarters of Millennials believe that other consumers care more about their opinions than companies do. And 71% believe that car dealers and manufacturers care about consumer opinions because the opinions impact how other customers view them, rather than because they truly want to know what their customers think (29%).

Slightly less than two-thirds of the respondents feel that dealerships and car companies should offer more ways to share their opinions online in the future, and that they will continue to participate.

Opinions are important to not just Millennials, though: according to a survey released in January 2012 by Cint, 62% of global consumers say they are likely to purchase a brand’s p..., compared to just 3% who are not likely to do so. The majority (56%) also say they feel more loyal to the brand if it takes the time to ask them their opinion, more than double the proportion who say their loyalty is not influenced (24%).

About the Data: The Bazaarvoice survey was conducted among 1,013 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and over by Kelton Research between August 25 and September 5, 2011 using an email invitation and an online survey.

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Comment by Megan Allen on January 1, 2013 at 4:28pm

Great post!  Being a millenial myself, I have to agree with these findings.  The reason is not that I trust strangers more than my friends or family, but because the experience of my loved ones could simply be a "one-off" encounter.  

Even the best companies slip sometimes, and in contrast, even the most un-professional of businesses get lucky sometimes.  If I base my opinion of an organization solely one one person's encounter, chances are I may be wrong.  

I would much rather see the general consensus on a larger scale before I make a decision as to where I will purchase a product from.  The internet provides a free focus group as to where my money and time is best spent - why not use it?!

Comment by Fran Taylor on December 30, 2012 at 7:06am
I find it strange that someone would trust a stranger on line compared to there parents , family and friends . More money is made in dealerships from repeats and referrals as a good sales rep compared to a fresh up . The close ratio on repeats is 60 % , referrals is 40 % compared to only 22 % on a fresh . This is done for one reason , TRUST .

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