MUNICH -- Automakers need to make better use of the Internet to draw in new customers and build relationships, an advertising association director says.
In times like now that are difficult for the car market, the Internet can help carmakers find people who are looking for a car. It can also help businesses stay in contact with them and build relationships and keep them as customers in the future, said Alison Fennah, executive director of the European Interactive Advertising Association.
Fennah made the comments here after presenting the results of a study called Mediascope Europe 2008.
The results of the study showed that last year 61 percent of Norwegians who used the Internet to research a car also bought it online. That is up from 41 percent in 2007.
In France and Italy, the result last year was 20 percent. In 2007, it was 18 percent for France and 11 percent for Italy.
Researching online and buying online is growing, said Fennah. [But] some people will always want to research online and buy offline if its an expensive item -- especially if its a car.
Further explaining the differences between the 10 countries, Fennah said that Italians, for example, are less likely than Norwegians to use their credit cards to make a purchase.
Survey organizers spoke with 9,000 people -- 1,000 each in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Great Britain and 500 each in the Netherlands and Belgium.
In the current economic downturn, which has led automakers in Europe and the US to seek financial help from governments, Fennah said businesses need to take customers through the purchase cycle.
She said: They need to be led through the process of finding out about the car and retaining them at the end and getting them involved in customer loyalty programs. Its more cost-effective to keep in touch with customers online.