Too many photos in online used-vehicle listings can cause “image fatigue” for consumers, a study released today found.
The optimal number? Nine.
That is among the conclusions in a new white paper by CarStory detailing consumer attitudes about used-vehicle shopping. CarStory is a provider of crowd-sourced data and analytics on used-vehicle pricing and preferences.
The optimal photo count was just one unexpected conclusion in the 19-page report, “How to Convert Used-Car Shoppers to Buyers.” It goes against conventional wisdom that says used-vehicle sellers should include as many photos as possible with their listings.
According to the report, used vehicles posted for sale with nine images generated:
The more images after that, the more lead volume drops off and “image fatigue” sets in, said Chad Bockius, CarStory chief marketing officer.
“In any marketplace, having 40 images is a bad thing,” Bockius told Automotive News.
CarStory’s data are gathered by its parent company, Vast, a provider of big data applications for several industries including automotive.
Vast says that it powers 350 automotive marketplaces and lists on its site AOL Autos, Car and Driver, J.D. Power and Associates and EveryCarListed.com as among its partners.
Exterior vs. interior
The problem with having a lot of photos in used-vehicle listings, Bockius said, is that the listings tend to show vehicle exteriors first.
Consumers want to see a vehicle’s exterior to examine it for scratches or other imperfections, he said, but they also are eager to see photos of a vehicle’s interior and especially its dashboard, as a way of checking out its in-vehicle technology.
“If you have to scroll through 10 to 15 images to get there, you end up with image fatigue and lose interest,” Bockius said. “The data was pretty overwhelming. It wasn’t just a blip. The more images you have, the less leads we saw for those vehicles.”
Speaking of in-vehicle technology, support for MP3, Bluetooth and iPod adapters emerged as the top three -- in that order -- of 25 “must-have features” in used vehicles, the study found.
Recon adds value
Bockius said among the report’s most surprising findings was how few times dealers use the space on listings reserved for sellers’ comments to tout vehicle reconditioning features such as new or replaced brakes, batteries or tires.
That’s especially revealing because vehicle condition was the No. 1 factor consumers said they care about when buying a used vehicle, the study found.
Bockius said only 47 percent of the listings included seller comments and only 2.4 percent of the comments included references to reconditioning.
“I know these dealers are reconditioning these cars and doing it more than 2.4 percent of the time,” he said. “And yet they’re not telling the consumers all the great things they are doing to improve the used vehicle.
“Those are reconditioning facts you should absolutely tell the consumer about. You should merchandise that. It adds more value to the car.”
The report’s findings are based on consumer surveys and searches for used vehicles conducted over the last 60 days, Bockius said.
“We targeted used-car shoppers that were going to one of the used-car marketplaces that we power,” he said. “We knew they were in the market; they were coming to a used-car site to research vehicles. We popped up the survey and we got a lot of data.”
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