Word of mouth most important for car shoppers, survey says

Go ahead and mouth off to family, friends and co-workers about how much – or little – you like your car.

Because, a new survey by Autolist.com suggests, there’s a good chance they’re listening to you instead of relying on expert reviews for their next vehicle purchase.

“When it comes to influencing a car shopper’s decision on what to buy, nothing has the power of old-fashioned word of mouth,” according to Autolist.com automotive research website, based on a multiple-choice survey of more than 1,100 car shoppers in January and early February.

Man whispering in woman’s ear

“The poll found that personal recommendations – from friends, family and co-workers – ranked as having the biggest influence on a car-buying decision, with 52 percent of respondents saying it had influenced their purchase in the past,” reported Autolist.com. “That majority was well ahead of the other influences respondents could choose from.”

Among other survey findings:

  • Data-backed organizations such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power ranked second, with 33 percent of respondents saying these had influenced their car-buying choice.
  • Media awards such as the North American Car/Truck/Utility of the Year, Motor Trend, Car & Driver, KBB.com and Edmunds.com ranked third with 26 percent.
  • Among social media influencers, YouTube reviews were cited by 22 percent of car shoppers. However, social media overall ranked low with outlets including Reddit, Facebook groups, Instagram and TikTok named as influential by only 11 percent of respondents.

And that brings us back to word of mouth and who’s listening to whom about car purchasing.

“When someone in your immediate circle has a good or bad experience with anything, it makes you feel better about making the same decision,” said Chase Disher, an Autolist analyst. “Because cars are such a huge purchase in our lives, word of mouth means that much more here.”

“Tesla and its all-electric lineup of cars and crossovers is perhaps the most obvious example of what strong word of mouth can do for an automaker’s success,” said Autolist. “The brand is famously averse to marketing and advertising and yet it easily outsells its more entrenched EV rivals by a wide margin.”

Autolist suggested that both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power were highly favored because “both organizations have long provided objective and quantitative rankings, paired with recommendations of brands and specific models, [which] has earned them a high degree of trust among consumers.”

That they also review other products means their reach and name recognition are extensive.

“Clearly there’s a lot of goodwill and respect for the Consumer Reports and J.D. Power brands that extends outside of the car-shopping experience,” Disher said.

So, if you have something to say about your vehicle purchase, go ahead. Someone probably is listening.

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