90% of car purchases in India influenced by the internet, claims study

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A new annual joint study conducted by Google in collaboration with the market research firm Kantar TNS reports that 90% of all car purchases made in India during 2018 were influenced by the Internet. The influence of the web over car purchases was 74% back in 2016.

Owing to the vast change in customer behavior, all leading automobile brands and dealerships have focused on increasing their online presence. This is not something new as almost all businesses are now focusing more on online presence to gain and retain customers.

The report, dubbed ‘The Drive to Decide 2018’ also finds that brand-switching in 2018 was 7%, which has declined from 11% in 2016. This suggests that buyers who are researching cars online are becoming more and more certain about the car brand that they want to go for. This explains why brands like Maruti and Hyundai continue to enjoy a large share of the market and internationally successful brands like Fiat and Chevrolet struggle. Even Honda is having troubles maintaining its sales, although that might change with the resurrection of the Civic, a car known for good reliability and economy.

Around 4,000 people were interviewed across the country for concluding The Drive to Decide 2018 report. The study also tracked the consumer’s car research as well as the car purchase journey of each participant from start to the end.

The report finds out about the various factors that influenced a car buyer’s decision. These are:

  • Online searches – Accounts for 90% purchases
  • Video searches – Accounts for 80% purchases
  • Brand/dealer websites visit – Accounts for 56% purchases

The Internet is becoming more and more video-oriented on a global scale. As India is one of the leading consumers of the web, video consumption over the Internet is also on the rise in the country. As such, all businesses are trying to create the most actionable video content possible.

Online video usage by car buyers is almost two-fold now, increasing from 43% in 2016 to 80% in 2018. Hence, it can be safely deduced that video content is playing an important role in online car purchases made in India, just like it is doing in other parts of the world.

The report, The Drive to Decide 2018, finds that online videos are serving more than a platform of discovery for car buyers. It also acts as a buyer’s consulting zone, allowing potential customers to get actionable insights and exploring various cars from various viewpoints.

Out of all car buyers that watched online videos, 87% of them went for some additional actions. These include:

  • Visiting the dealership (52%)
  • Scheduling a test drive (45%)
  • Requesting a price quote (40%)
  • Further researching finance and lease offers (27%)

These findings bolster the fact that car makers are now focusing greatly on creating effective video content to attract potential customers.

According to the Country Director, Sales for Google India, Vikas Agnihotri, car buyers today aren’t only searching for dealers and manufacturers online. Instead, they are actively seeking videos that can answer their questions related to car features, performance, looks, et cetera. Mr. Agnihotri further adds that as a consequence, automakers are busy with creating experiences that are immersive as well as capable to resolve most, if not all, customer queries.

The 2018 annual auto study conducted by Google India and Kantar TNS also highlights that among all the car buyers:

  • 60% searched for online dealerships
  • 56% visited the dealer websites as a part of their car hunt

In addition to searching for vehicle pricing, online car buyers also prominently looked for:

  • Maintenance programs (41%)
  • Promotional offers (37%)
  • Locations and directions to car dealerships (35%)
  • Reviews and recommendations (32%)

These findings offered by The Drive to Decide 2018 report tells a lot about the current state of mind of a potential car buyer in India. The Internet is trusted more than ever, and hence it is very important for every automaker looking to make it big in India to build its online presence.

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