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Toyota Ranks highest of automaker websites in Canada

Lincoln and Buick follow in J.D. Power 2012 Canadian Manufacturer Website study

Published: May 17, 2012, 2:00 PM
Looking for manufacturers' information about new vehicles online before making the trek to a dealership? 

Toyota Canada's website ranks highest of all automakers' websites in Canada in overall shopper satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Canadian Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study, released today.

With a score of 858 (out of 1000), the Toyota site performs particularly well across all four factors evaluated, Power says. Lincoln and Buick follow in the rankings, with scores of 845 and 843, respectively.

Now in its seventh year, the study measures the usefulness of Canadian automotive manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process from the perspective of online shoppers who intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next 12 months. 

Four factors contribute to overall shopper satisfaction with manufacturer websites: information/content, speed, navigation and appearance.

Impact on test drives
New-vehicle shoppers in Canada are significantly more likely to visit a dealership for a test-drive in a vehicle of interest if they've already had a highly satisfying experience on a manufacturer's website, the study concludes.

 Among "highly-satisfied" online  shoppers, 76% are more likely to visit a dealer showroom for a test drive, compared with 14% of shoppers who are "less-satisfied."

According to  J.D. Ney, automotive account analyst at J.D. Power and Associates, "As more shoppers use manufacturer websites to conduct initial vehicle research, the need to create a great first impression is imperative." 

As new Web technologies and preferences emerge, the study finds, the more active a manufacturer is in adapting its Web presence to these changes, the more likely it is that shopper satisfaction with the website will increase.

Overall new-vehicle shopper satisfaction with manufacturer websites has increased significantly to 821 in 2012, up 37 points from 2011. Satisfaction in all factors – speed (+42 points); appearance (+40); navigation (+34); and information/content (+33) – has also increased significantly, contributing to the rise in the overall satisfaction score.

Luxury vs. Mass Market Brands 
The study also concludes that higher expectations of a brand lead to a gap in satisfaction when comparing the websites of luxury brands with those of mass market brands. 

Among online new-vehicle shoppers, mass market brands' websites have a higher average overall satisfaction score (822) than do luxury brands (818), although the opinion ratings for the luxury brands themselves are significantly higher than for mass market brands (4.38 vs. 4.00, respectively, on a five-point scale).

"Shoppers have much higher expectations of luxury brands and expect those expectations to be conveyed on their websites as well," says Ney. "When perception and reality do not match, the shopper's satisfaction with the website drops. Luxury brands need to put more effort toward making their website a premium experience."

Canadian Manufacturer Website Evaluation Results
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Toyota - 858
Lincoln - 845
Buick - 843
Chevrolet - 841
Honda - 839
Kia - 837
Subaru - 837
Volvo - 837
Lexus - 834
Mercedes-Benz - 833
Volkswagen - 833
Mazda - 827
Scion - 826
Hyundai - 822
Mass Market Avg - 822
Industry Avg - 821
Mitsubishi -820
Ford - 819
Jeep - 819
Fiat - 818
Luxury Avg - 818
Dodge - 817
Nissan - 817
Ram - 817
GMC - 812
Acura - 811
Infiniti - 808
Audi - 806
Cadillac - 803
Suzuki - 800
Chrysler - 798
BMW - 787
MINI  was also Included in the study but was not ranked due to small sample size.

The 2012 Canadian Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study is based on evaluations provided by 3,078 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they would be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months. It was conducted in February and March 2012.