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Car buyers increasingly internet and app-savvy


It's not just "Gen Y" consumers using their smart phone apps, social media, and the internet to decide what car to buy.

Four out of five people used a broad array of digital sources of information when narrowing down their search, according to a new survey by J.D. Power and Associates.

About half did not have a brand preference when they began their search.

Researcher Arianne Walker says car companies need to be everywhere - because consumers are.

However, the survey found the most-consulted sites by far were Consumer Reports, Edmunds.com, and KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book).

Walker says some salespeople may find they have to step up their game, because they're dealing with an increasingly knowledgable and empowered customer.

"Most people have a smart phone in their pocket," says Walker, "And so they can pull that out while they're on the dealer lot and continue to look at inventory either on that lot or a competitor's lot, or they can look at pricing information."

About 50% of people knew what make and model of car they wanted before going to the dealership.

Only five percent of that group changed their minds during the research process.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.