Study Challenges Automotive eMarketing Myths

Online Experiences Less than Satisfying for Consumers, Says Accenture

Traverse City, Mich., August 7, 2001 – Despite its efforts to attract consumers through Web sites, the automotive industry has provided online experiences that have been far less than satisfying, according to new Accenture (NYSE: ACN) research findings released today. In fact, the research showed that only one-fifth (20 percent) of consumers are “very satisfied” with automaker Web sites, and almost one-half (48 percent) are “neutral/dissatisfied” with them.

The nationwide survey explored consumers’ online experiences with automotive Web sites and shattered a number of industry myths. It found that:

  • Younger consumers, or those 18 – 34, do not represent the biggest spending segment on the Internet. In fact, three quarters of those who do are over 35 years of age, and more than half are over 45
  • People do not want to purchase cars online today. Instead, 56 percent of consumers want to use the Web to gather some or all of their research used to make a car buying decision
  • Online consumers prefer simple Web sites. They turn to an auto site for quick access to information rather than an interactive experience. Thirty-five percent seek product updates, and only 13 percent want service reminders and nine percent want location mapping
  • Personalized Web sites do not enhance the online experience. Overall, consumers ranked personalization last compared to other online attributes

“It’s clear that, based on these findings, OEMs should reconsider their approach to reaching consumers via the Web,” commented John Cunningham, partner, the Accenture Automotive industry group. “They need to build informative, easy-to-use sites and forego costly investments in one-click auto shopping. And their sites don’t have to offer every visual effect that technology makes possible. When it comes to online marketing initiatives, OEMs need to shift their focus to what consumers really want – and away from what the industry thinks they want.”

A Look Ahead

Looking ahead, Cunningham suggests OEMs revisit their Web sites and:

  • Identify the online market segment(s) they want to serve and focus on those most apt to repay the investment necessary to address their needs – Once the segment has been identified, manufacturers should evaluate initiatives and investments based on what they do to serve that segment
  • Focus on their core business, rather than eBusiness – That is, do not pour time and money into making cars available online or making e-reps available to answer questions online
  • Reassess online efforts with an eye to the bottom line – Make investments in those initiatives most likely to pay off and customize marketing messages and information at the segment level
  • Integrate online and offline marketing channels – Consider online technology as a tool – not an end in itself – and make it easy for consumers to use the Web site to find a local dealer, where they form their most important brand impressions and make purchase decisions
  • Build marketing muscle – Collect information from customers visiting the Web site and use it to form a better understanding of the market

“No one can accuse the auto industry of sitting on its hands during the craze, but the return on investment has not been what they expected,” added Cunningham. “But what matters now is that auto makers redirect their investments from unpromising to rewarding applications and rebuild strong brands."

Conducted in the Fall of 2000, the survey, conducted by Accenture and Online Insight, a provider of customer-driven sales and intelligence solutions, studied 1,000 North American consumers who had visited automobile Web sites at some point in the past three years. It was part of a series of horizontal and cross-industry studies analyzing the “e” market that Accenture fielded with Online Insight, and which looked at more than 10,000 online consumers and 800 business-to-business buyers to find the triggers for online brand value.

About Online Insight
Online Insight provides integrated solutions focused on sales outcomes and business intelligence. The Online Insight suite of solutions interacts with customers across multiple channels enabling companies to understand WHY their customers purchase products and/or services. These real-time interactions result in increased sales and provide the business intelligence that strategically drives sales, marketing and product development, while improving top line revenue and reducing costs. Online Insight was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, please visit

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading provider of management and technology consulting services and solutions, with more than 75,000 people in 46 countries delivering a wide range of specialized capabilities and solutions to clients across all industries. Accenture operates globally with one common brand and business model designed to enable the company to serve its clients on a consistent basis around the world. Under its strategy, Accenture is building a network of businesses to meet the full range of any organization’s needs - consulting, technology, outsourcing, alliances and venture capital. The company generated revenues before reimbursements of $9.75 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2000, and $8.67 billion for the nine months ended May 31, 2001. Its home page is