Survey Finds Online Members Don't Look To CU For Info

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More than 70% of online credit union members report using online information sources to research purchasing and financing automobiles. But only half said they thought of the credit union website as the first source of such information, according to a new survey by Callahan & Associates. Most of the others (42%) said they didn't think of the credit union at all while doing their research.

Survey data collected by Callahan's from 16 credit unions nationwide in April show that when it is used, the credit union website is most frequently consulted for checking interest rates (29%) and/or loan calculators (28%). Online members said they turn to other sites for auto pricing information (30%), auto listings (21%) or consumer/safety information (21%).

More than 70% of respondents said they were "very interested" in seeing pricing/Blue Book information added to the credit union website. The next most wanted additions are auto purchasing tips and ratings/safety information, both desired by half the group, the company said.

"These responses are like opportunity knocking on the door because the data in our survey show that credit unions who have actively promoted their site as a 'one-stop' resource for auto or auto loan information experience greater levels of auto loan penetration than the sites that did not have much information online," said Callahan E-Commerce Manager Scott Patterson. "Adding links to third-party resources is one way to encourage more members to turn first to their credit union website for information."

Credit union websites enhanced with educational information and links to trusted third parties could make a critical difference in helping credit unions boost auto loans during what promises to be another challenging year for credit union auto loans, Patterson suggested.

Callahan's cited auto industry predictions already indicate auto sales may be down 2% from last year, which means that manufacturers will continue to offer the 0% financing on terms to 60 months.

Auto loans represented an important 39% of CUlending last year, but though used auto loans grew 12%, new auto loan growth was close to zero, the firm said.

CUs in the credit unions surveyed ranged in size from $181 million to $2.8 billion in assets, are part of Callahan's Survey Consortium, a shared-cost survey group.

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