Automotive Analytics Part 2
Do People Read Owners Manuals Prior to Buying? The Ford Focus and Others May Give Insight.
In the previous segment of Automotive Analytics I went over organic search keywords logged in Google Analytics and downloads tracked in my download manager in order to determine that a small percentage of new car shoppers refer to the owners manual to help their purchase process. When I looked at the numbers one model that really stood out was the Ford Focus. For those of you unfamiliar with this econobox car it was introduced in 1998 and has just recently be redesigned. The Focus has seen 3 generations of cars in North America. Generation 1 (1998-2005), Generation 2 (2005-2011), and the all new Generation 3 (2012-present). If you read my previous blog post I stated that I first received an email from a prospective Ford Focus buyer looking for the 2012-2013 owners manual. That seemed a bit odd to me but I soon discovered why, the Ford Focus for 2012 has been completely redesigned, Generation 3 was already here! The 3rd Generation Ford Focus is really a stunning upgrade and an overall monumental improvement from the previous generations. The 2012 Focus includes a complete exterior and interior redesign, an improved 4 cylinder engine, improved suspension, more technology gadgets and even an all-electric drive version. I could go more in depth but that’s beyond the point of this post. For a quick reference between Generation 2 and Generation 3, see the figure below. It’s pretty significant.
So yeah, the 3rd generation Focus looks a lot better, what’s your point? According to sales stats in North America, the 3rd Generation Ford Focus sold 273,928 units in 2012. That’s better than any year the Ford Focus has ever had and is a 35.9% increase in sales from the year before! If I combine the sales data with the amount of downloads for each year of the Ford Focus I should see a rise in downloads for the 2012 year right? Oh yeah.
In the chart above there exists a pretty strong correlation between the number of Ford Focii sold to the number of owners manuals downloaded for each year. There are 139 total downloads for the 2011 model year Focus, compared to the 1,246 downloaded for the 2012 year, making it a 796% percent increase in downloads from the previous year.
That is quite statistically significant and I theorize that the increase in downloads is due to prospective buyers browsing the manual to see what’s new for the Generation 3 Focus.
A look at the Honda Accord Just like the Ford Focus, the Honda Accord has recently undergone a complete redesign for its 9th generation. The graph below shows downloads for each year of the Honda Accord and is colorized by its corresponding generation. It’s interesting to see the slight increase of manuals downloaded for each new generation introduced by Honda, most surprising is how much of an increase 2013 saw. The last year of Generation 8 logged 265 downloads, whereas the brand new 9th generation Accord logged 632, a 58% increase in downloads!
We can also see a comparison between manuals downloaded and North American sales figures. Keep in mind that the data for 2013 is not completely up to date as there are still a few months left in the year. But still you’ll notice the sharp increase in manuals downloaded and sales figures for the first 6 months of 2013 almost match the entire sales for 2012!
A look at the Honda Civic I like looking at data from Honda because its one of the few makes that I included the 2013 manual for download. Just like the Honda Accord, the Civic shows a very sharp increase in owners manuals downloaded for 2013. 2012 had 372 downloads logged whereas 2013 clocked in at 794, a 53% increase in downloads from the previous year. Again we have the introduction of a new generation of vehicle combined with a statistically significant increase in manual downloads.
And just for laughs I’ll include sales figures for North America and manuals downloaded on my site on a graph.
A look at the Toyota Prius I don’t want to bore you all anymore so I’ll include a final example, the Toyota Prius. Its latest generation began in 2010 but we can still see a significant amount of owners manuals downloaded for 2013. This breaks the correlation I observed between generation and manuals downloaded in the Ford Focus above, but still supports my hypothesis that car shoppers will consult the owners manual when researching new cars to buy.
It should be noted that Toyota is one of the automotive manufacturers that splice their manuals up into about 20-60 different pieces. As far as I know I am the only website on the internet that includes the entire manual in one whole piece.
YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS SHIT UP
JGMTDM: Charting Data n’ Saving Lives 🙂