Internet marks its impact on automotive segment

Saturday 09 June 2012, 01:14 AM by

Highlighting the growing impact of World Wide Web on shopping, a survey revealed that at least 50 per cent of the car consumers in India research online before actually visiting the showroom. It also says that 54 per cent of the car buyers who researched online changed their choice of car based on information gathered online. The study was conducted by Google India, the Indian subdivision of Google Inc, the internet search giant and AC Nielsen, consumer survey firm.

Third only after the China and the US, India has over 120 million of Internet users as per the study. According to Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India Pvt. Ltd., the survey was conducted based on the number of buyers visiting the dealer. It was conducted in eight metropolitan cities and 2791 customers were interviewed during the course of the study. Customers at 234 showrooms of leading car makers like Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Ford India, Chevrolet, Hyundai Motor, Honda Motor, and Volkswagen AG participated in the survey.

With user traffic on an online auto portal CarWale.com having doubled over last year, Co-founder, Mohit Dubey confirms the findings of the study. According to him, buyers go “online to do a lot of things such as get prices, read reviews, fill test drive forms and do not limit themselves to the manufacturer’s site.” No particular brand is preferred by these customers as such.

No response from an automobile company, four hours from posting a test drive request, results in shift of interest elsewhere by the customers researching online. This fact was highlighted by France-based consultancy firm Cap Gemini in their SA’s 12th annual global automotive study, which was published in the beginning of 2012. The automotive sector has become the fastest growing query category on the search platform since the online query related to this sector posted on Google, grew by 70 per cent in 2011. Compared to this, the query volume related to well-settled sector of travel grew by 40 per cent. According to Anandan, the online query volume related to cars is “growing exponentially”.

Nielsen also discovered that to get information related to cars, 47 per cent of car buyers seek opinion of family and peers. This is followed by 42 per cent of those who consider search engines as main source of information. With just 2 per cent and 9 per cent of the car buyers referring to TV and print media respectively, they were nowhere close to internet.

Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) was the fastest-growing car segment with yearly growth rate of 83 per cent, followed by premium cars segment growing at 82 per cent, in terms of “query volume growth”. Despite having the largest market share in passenger vehicle segment in India, small cars was the slowest segment, with query volume growing at 53 per cent. As per the study, the official websites of the automotive companies were trusted by 72 per cent of online users.

Analyst, PricewaterhouseCoopers India, Abdul Majeed, said, “There is no direct correlation with the data of search queries to the buying pattern of the consumer.” Further, he added, “There could be a possibility that the reason for high queries from the buyers is because the survey was conducted in the eight metros of the city.”

A list of 'Top 10' searched cars, launched in India, was also published by Google. Hyundai Eon occupied the top position on dais followed by XUV500 from Mahindra & Mahindra. Honda's successful model, Brio occupied the third position on the list. The query volume of the week prior to the launch, the week of the launch and the week after the launch of a car was taken into the account for the study.

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