Mobile-device car shoppers are younger, affluent and more likely to buy a new vehicle, according to a poll commissioned by Cars.com, an online automotive marketplace.

The online Nielsen survey of more than 1,600 recent automotive purchasers and intenders shows how and when car shoppers use their smartphones and computer tablets, including while they’re on the dealership lot.

“It’s no secret that mobile devices have completely changed the way consumers shop,” says Sharon Knitter, Cars.com’s senior director-mobile.

But, she adds, “What hasn’t changed with the growth of mobile usage is the importance of mastering the basics of selling a car.”

People age 34 and younger represented 40% of the survey respondents. About 75% are interested in a new car. Nearly 80% report a household income of more than $50,000. 

A majority recently bought or plans to buy a vehicle priced between $20,000 and $40,000, with an average price of $28,419.

Smartphone users, making up 83% of the respondents, mostly use mobile apps. Tablet users, representing 28% of the survey group, are more likely to access websites. But device use is not mutually exclusive.

Activities in which mobile car shoppers engage in the most include viewing photos (77%), finding dealership information (76%), reading expert/consumer vehicle reviews (74%), comparing vehicle prices (71%), searching vehicle listings (67%) and reading reviews of dealerships (51%).

Such widespread and frequent use “means that many issues, such as poor merchandising, incorrect contact information and customer complaints, can be amplified for the mobile shopper, sending them elsewhere,” Knitter says.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com