11.27.2010

Vehix.com vs. Consumer Reports: Who's Better?

Savvy shoppers spend some time researching products before making a purchase, especially when that purchase involves an expensive item such as high-end electronics or a home.  The methods consumers use to conduct such research vary greatly depending on many factors such as geography, demographics, psychographics, budgetary restraints and the item itself.  For this week, I decided to evaluate the research of vehicles by assessing ConsumerReports.org for a broad look at vehicle comparison and Vehix.com for a narrow look at vehicle comparison.

Across The Board
Consumer Reports is a widely respected organization whose mission is to “work for a safe, just, and fair marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.” (ConsumerReports.org).  Consumer Reports compares cars across the board and provides all sorts of information such as roads tests, tires, batteries, engines, transmissions, etc.  You can search by “new” or “used” vehicles across the board and they are listed alphabetically, i.e. Acura appears first. The web site tells the consumer that the organization actually purchases every car they test anonymously and they drive each car thousands of miles.  The upside to Consumer Reports is that they do not accept any advertising or trades or samples.  This is a major benefit to the potential buyer who trying to conduct research on which car to buy because Consumer Reports is unbiased and is simply reporting their research findings.  They do, however, include consumer opinions to help the potential purchaser obtain feedback from people who have actually owned and driven the vehicle in question.  The major downside to this web site is that you must pay to be  a subscriber in order to fully access all of this information.

A Closer Look.
Vehix.com allows the consumer to evaluate cars one at a time. The first thing I noticed was the tag line, “Find Your Ride”.  That really caught my attention and made the web site inviting.  You can search by “new” and “used” just as with Consumer Reports; additionally you can search by “reviews”, “videos”, and even “financing”.  Unlike the other site, Vehix does accept advertising (I noticed an ad for Mazda on the home page), which could make the consumer leery about reviews (downside).  It does provide reviews by both experts and consumers however, it takes a little searching to find the source of each review for validity.  Vehix also allows you to list your car for sale.  You can choose a free option or pay a fee for an advanced listing.  Currently, I am interested in selling one of my cars and the site was helpful in showing me how much similar cars are currently selling for on the site.  I found this to be an incredible upside.

Final Thoughts.
During preparation for this post, I saw a TV ad for Toyota Camry. Click here to see it.  This ad is showing a family that has several generations of Camry drivers and the family explains how each car is passed down to the next youngest driver over time.  Marketers are very interested in family decision making; that is, how family members interact and influence each other when choosing which goods to purchase for a household. (WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2010). This Camry ad is a great example of family influence on purchasing goods.  If a family member in this ad were to want to venture away from Toyota, perhaps they would use either Consumer Reports or Vehix to help them with their research – then weigh their findings against their family influence.

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