Mobile car shopping is evolving, according to an independent study conducted by Nielsen, a leading global information and research firm, on behalf of

Conducted in June of 2012, the Nielsen study surveyed over 1,500 smartphone, advanced feature phone and tablet users who reported using automotive applications and/or mobile websites in their vehicle shopping process.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Universal adoption: While a similar study from 2011 found the average mobile shopper to be young, more affluent and likely shopping for a new vehicle, this year’s study found mobile usage to be more mainstream. A higher proportion of older shoppers are using mobile compared with the 2011, particularly due to an increase from 20% to 26% in the proportion of mobile shoppers over the age of 55, and income is more diverse, with more shoppers reporting household income below $100,000 compared with the previous study. A higher proportion of used and certified pre-owned shoppers are also using mobile during their search.
  • Cross-platform usage: In 2011, smartphones saw the highest proportion of ownership, and while that remains true in 2012, 48% of mobile car shoppers also own a tablet, versus just 28% last year. While shoppers use mobile devices throughout the purchase process, usage of a particular device increases for certain activities: tablets, like desktop and laptop computers, saw higher usage for research-intensive activities, such as looking up vehicle information and conducting comparisons, while smartphone usage increased for activities that typically take place closer to purchase, such as contacting a dealership via phone or text, scanning VINs for specific vehicle information and– check-ins. In fact, more than 4 in 10 mobile shoppers reported using their device while on the dealership lot.
  • Apps vs. Mobile Websites: About 41% of mobile shoppers use automotive apps during their shopping process, compared with 99% of users who access mobile websites. Of shoppers who use both apps and websites, however, nearly half prefer using apps on their smartphones, while 1 in 3 prefer apps when using a tablet.

To learn more, download the Nielsen infographic and insights piece, and visit

Lastly, if you’re attending Digital Dealer this month, be sure to attend Jack Simmons’ related presentation, “Mastering the Mobile Check-in,” on Wednesday, Oct 24th!

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