REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Reputation, a global leader in reputation experience management (RXM), unveiled findings from its annual automotive industry report, which looks at key industry trends from the past year and ranks the top auto brands, dealerships and dealer groups. This comes after a whirlwind year for the automotive industry, which saw pandemic uncertainty, surging demand, and eroding margins due to a global chip shortage. Analyzing more than 20,000 automotive brands and dealerships in North America (United States and Canada), and 15,000 more across Europe, Reputation found that:
- Reviews are more important than ever. Review volume for 2021 is higher than ever. Nearly 80% of consumers say reviews are important and 41% say they will read at least five reviews before visiting a dealership.
- Inventory shortages are top of mind for customers. Reviews mentioning shortages have increased 32.6x from January 2021 to July 2021.
- Reviews and star ratings drive customer leads. 64% of consumers surveyed say they would travel more than 20 miles to a top-rated dealership.
- Customer service is the main driver of positive ratings for auto dealerships. Despite the rise of digital, buying a car remains a largely human-centered, face-to-face experience. 65% of car shoppers told us they are influenced significantly by in-person visits.
- Price is the top driver of negative ratings. Dealerships need to manage consumers’ expectations about prices during the inventory shortage when demand is outstripping supply. 82% of consumers we surveyed with YouGov said price is an important consideration, more than any other factor.
“The automotive industry has seen it all over the past year, from huge spikes in sales to inventory challenges. Through it all, dealers and manufacturers have embraced digital tools and customer feedback to create a smooth car buying experience for all,” said Joe Fuca, CEO of Reputation. “We are proud to say that our dealer and brand rankings this year highlight the value that tools like Reputation bring to the automotive industry, with many of our customers taking top spots.”
The Great Transition for the Automotive Industry
Cars allowed millions of people to reclaim their lives during the pandemic, evident in the sales surge the industry saw during the first half of 2021, despite the global semiconductor chip shortage that sent car prices rising to their highest in history. Now, unfortunately, this chip shortage promises to stunt supply, potentially costing the global auto industry almost double its initial projection of $110 billion.
Buying a car continues to be an inherently in-person experience, and can influence which dealership to buy from. Our data confirms this, with 65% of our respondents indicating they’re significantly influenced by in-person visits. However, the pandemic has changed how and where customers feel comfortable interacting with brands, with online as the preferred choice — at least during COVID-19.
This backdrop has only accelerated the use of digital tools among car buyers, especially in the early stages of the customer journey. Upon analyzing Google My Business (GMB) traffic, along with more than 4.8 million ratings/reviews across dealer websites, social media channels and GMB listings, Reputation found that the volume of reviews in 2021 continues to climb, reflecting shoppers’ comfort with relying on digital word-of-mouth. In fact, according to our study with YouGov, nearly 80% of consumers say that reviews are important in their selection of a car dealership, and 41% say they read at least five reviews before visiting a dealership. Average star ratings have increased or held steady in 2020, GMB actions and views have increased (4% and 15%, respectively) since August 2020, with click-to-website the most common action taken by consumers.
Additionally, industry innovation is growing in popularity. Our data shows a significant increase in electric vehicle (EV) reviews since 2020, with consistent sentiment. The uptick in reviews can be tied to an increase in EV sales and heightened public interest.
US AUTOMOTIVE RANKINGS
Top 5 Auto Brands
Top 5 Dealer Groups
- Penske Automotive Group
- Sonic Automotive Inc.
- AutoNation Inc.
- Group 1 Automotive
- Asbury Automotive Group Inc.
- Hendrick Automotive
- Holman Automotive Group Inc.
- Prime Automotive Group
- Napleton Automotive Group