If you are planning to buy a car, who will you go to for advice? The Internet…family… a car expert? Various people choose various options, but according to a study done by Google India, with over 120 million Indian Internet users, the Internet plays an important role in influencing the decision-making process of India’s growing number of car buyers.
The offline study conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Google India at car showrooms in eight metros (NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Kochi) revealed that one in two car buyers conducted research online before arriving at the dealership. The survey also revealed that of those who had researched about their purchase options online, over 50 per cent changed their choice of car brands after uncovering new information on the web.
Speaking about the study, Rajan Anandan, vice president & managing director, Google India, said: “This offline study substantiates the growing number of auto-related searches we’ve seen on Google Search inIndia. Auto is among the fastest growing vertical in terms of query volumes on Google. Most OEMs have not yet tapped the full potential of the digital medium and we hope this study will help them to understand and engage the Indian consumer online.”
Respondents reported that they used the web to research and compare prices, watch online videos, find images, do competitive analysis, find dealer contacts and read both expert and user reviews. Most car buyers also rated OEMs website as the most important and trustworthy source of information. Of the 50 per cent respondents who went online, 42 per cent said they used search engine as the first source of information, just behind the opinions of friends and relatives’ (47 per cent).
However, the auto-makers aren’t affected by the study. Abhishek Gupta, former brand manager at Maruti Suzuki India Limited and business head – North at RPS consulting said that people might go online for research but final decision depends on what family and friends recommend. “One goes online to get a basic understanding. He might read blogs, reviews or comments to get others point of view but will buy a car which he aspires to purchase or what people close to him tell him to.”
Voicing the same opinion, a marketing head at the leading Japanese car manufacturer, said: “Maybe Google is correct or maybe they are not. But it’s a fact that one needs to go to a showroom to get a feel and look of the various cars s/he has shortlisted before zeroing in on one.”
The research was conducted outside the car showrooms of India’s leading OEMs namely: Maruti, Tata Motors, Ford, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Honda & VW. The total sample size for the research was 2,791 respondents. Out of which 93 per cent were males, with 75 per cent of the respondents in the age group of 25-44.