With over 120 million internet users in the country, the internet is playing a major role in influencing the decision-making of India’s growing number of car buyers. An offline study conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Google India at car showrooms of leading car makers in top eight metros revealed that one in two car buyers had conducted research online before arriving at the dealership. The survey also revealed that of those who had researched their purchase online, over 50 per cent changed their choice of car brands after uncovering new information on the web.
The study shed light on how the internet influences the purchasing decisions of car buyers in India. Respondents reported that they used the web to research and compare prices, watch online videos and 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).
Commenting about the study’s findings, Rajan Anandan, VP and Managing Director of Google India said, “This offline study substantiates the growing number of auto-related searches we’ve seen on Google search in India. 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.”
Buyers rated internet more important than TV or print media for auto related content, thanks to fast, easy access to necessary information and rich media formats such as online video. Over 56 per cent car buyers also choose to watch videos online as part of their research, with over 48 per cent rating YouTube as the destination and a important source of information on the internet.
Methodology for offline research
The research was conducted outside car showrooms of India’s leading OEMs namely, Maruti, Tata Motors, Ford, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Honda & VW. About 234 dealership across the top eight cities were covered for the research. The top cities included dealerships at NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad & Kochi. The total sample size of the research was 2791 respondents. Out of which 93 per cent were males, with 75 percent of the respondents in the age group of 25 to 44. More than 75 per cent of them belong to SEC - A. The research was conducted over two months Jan-Feb 2012.
These findings are consistent with query trends on Google Web Search. Auto is among the fastest growing vertical on Google, with query volume growth of over 70 per cent year-on-year. In addition, in 2011 mobile queries grew 125 per cent year-on-year; from smartphones, the query volumes were almost double at 242 per cent.
With search engines emerging as the starting point for online car research, Google researched deep into the search query patterns on Google search in India for insights into the minds of consumers across the nation. In terms of query volume growth, SUVs was the fastest growing car segment growing at (83 per cent year-on-year), followed by premium cars (82 per cent), sedans (75 per cent), luxury cars (74 per cent) and hatchback cars were growing at (53 per cent year-on-year).
Based on the search query volumes, Google also looked at the top 10 most searched cars based query volumes Google search in India in 2011. The top 10 most searched new car launches in 2011 were Hyundai Eon , Mahindra XUV 500, Honda Brio, Tata Manza, Maruti Kizashi ,Toyota Liva, Hyundai Verna, Nissan Sunny, Skoda Rapid and Ford Fiesta.