Among the 77% of new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet in the shopping process, more than two-thirds visit at least one auto maker website in the six months leading up to purchase, while nearly 80% visit at least one third-party website.

So says a joint study by J.D. Power and Associates and Compete Inc.

In the month of purchase, visitation to manufacturer websites increases to match visitation of third-party websites, with 31% of all new-vehicle buyers visiting each type of website.

Among buyers who visit third-party websites, inventory search is the most popular website tool, with 25% of buyers accessing this type of information.

Among buyers who visit manufacturer websites, vehicle building tools are used most frequently (29%).

“Understanding shopping patterns of new-vehicle buyers prior to purchase is key for both manufacturer and third-party marketers,” says Arianne Walker, J.D. Power's director-marketing research.