Nielsen report on Google India shows 50% of car buyers here research online before buying a vehicle

India has over 120 million internet users in the country and the figure is expected to further rise to unimaginable proportions by 2015. When it comes to decision making on car purchase majority of Indians rely on information on the internet. Needless to say the internet is playing a huge role in influencing the growing number of car buyers in the country. Fact findings on Nielson reports on behalf of Google reveal majority of car buyers in India research online before making a purchase.

The offline study revealed that one among two car buyers in India conducts a research before going to various dealerships. The report further revealed that before taking the final decision car buyers in India take around 9 to 12 weeks on research. The report also suggests that for auto related content in India the Internet leaves TV and print media far behind.

Stats reveal that more than 50% of Indians change their choice of car brand after accessing information online. Over 56% of car buyers also watched videos online as part of their research. The report also throws light on the fact that over 40% of Indians use search engines as the first source to access information.

News release: 50% of cars buyers research online before final purchase – Google India car buyers’ study

Over 50% of car buyers changed their choice of brand after online research

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 8 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% 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% respondents who went online, 42% said they used search engine as the first source of information, just behind the opinions of friends and relatives’ (47%).

On average, car buyers spend 9-12 weeks researching before arriving at their final decision, and of those who turned to the web for assistance, over 90% of shoppers used a search engine to learn more about the cars they were interested in buying.

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% car buyers also choose to watch videos online as part of their research, with over 48% rating YouTube as the destination and a important source of information on the Internet.

Speaking about the study’s findings, Rajan Anandan, VP & 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.”

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% year on year. In addition, in 2011 mobile queries grew 125% yoy; from smartphones, the query volumes were almost double at 242%.

With search engines emerging as the starting point for online car research, we dug 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% yoy), followed by premium cars (82%), sedans (75%), luxury cars (74%) and hatchback cars were growing at (53% yoy).

Based on the search query volumes, we also looked at the top 10 most searched cars based query volumes Google search in India in 2011:

Top 10 most searched new car launches in 2011*:

Hyundai Eon
Mahindra XUV 500
Honda Brio
Tata Manza
Maruti Kizashi
Toyota Liva
Hyundai Verna
Nissan Sunny
Skoda Rapid
Ford Fiesta

*For most searched cars we looked at query volumes for 13 weeks around a launch [6 weeks prior to the launch week, 6 weeks after the launch week and the week of the launch]. For example: If a car is launched in the week of 25th July 2011, the search volumes for 13 weeks from 13th June 2011 to 5th September 2011 are taken for the analysis.

Methodology for Offline research:

The research was conducted outside the Car showrooms of India’s leading OEMs namely: Maruti, Tata Motors, Ford, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Honda & VW. 234 dealership across top 8 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% were males, with 75% of the respondents in the age group – 25-44. More than 75% of them belong to SEC – A. The research was conducted over two months Jan-Feb 2012.