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Customers say salespeople their top source for car-buying decisions

June 8, 2012
Contrary to a growing belief that social media soon will replace traditional automotive dealerships, a recent study found that the dealership salesperson still is the most influential source of information for car buyers. In fact, salespeople led all other choices — and by the entry’s greatest margin in five years.
Maritz Research’s New-Vehicle Customer Study, released May 30, asked customers what sources of information they found most influential in their buying decisions. The top three sources in the U.S. constituted 59 percent of all responses:
1. Salesperson at the dealership (21.9 percent)
2. Family/friend/word of mouth (18.7 percent)
3. Consumer guides (18.4 percent)
“People buy from people,” said Chris Travell , vice president and strategic consultant for Maritz Research. “Social media can certainly support the selling effort, but I believe it would be a mistake to believe that social media will usurp it.”
Recommendations from family and friends and word of mouth were ranked statistically higher than in past years, while consumer guides such as Consumer Reports still remain the third most influential source of information.
“What our family and friends say or recommend to us is important,” Travell said. “Every manufacturer needs to have a well-defined social media strategy. However, we still need to remember the importance of human interaction in buying a car.”