90% car purchases in India in 2018 were digitally driven: Google-Kantar report

Today, 90 per cent of Indian car purchases are digitally driven, up from 74 per cent in 2016, states ‘The Drive to Decide 2018’ annual report by Google and Kantar TNS. The study tracks consumers’ car research and purchase journey and finds that video (80 per cent), search (90 per cent) and brand/ dealer websites (56 per cent) are the key digital touchpoints that play a crucial role in influencing a car-buyer’s decision. 

Online is an indispensable research source 

Demystifying the automobile buying journey of the typical Indian consumer, the report states that today, 90 per cent auto buyers research online, making it a well thought through decision. Also, buyers researching online are increasingly more certain about the brand they want to purchase with instances of brands switching declining by 4 per cent in the last two years – from 11 per cent in 2016 to 7 per cent in 2018. 

Video matters to buyers 

With India becoming a video-first country, online video plays a significant role in the purchase journey of an automobile shopper. Over the last two years, the percentage of online video usage by consumers has nearly doubled – from 43 per cent in 2016 to 80 per cent in 2018. The study highlights that videos not only act as a platform for discovery but also as ‘buyers’ consulting zone’ that allows them to explore the car from different perspectives and get actionable insights. 87 per cent of those who watched online videos either visited the dealership (52 per cent), scheduled a test drive (45 per cent), requested a price quote (40 per cent) or further researched finance and lease offers (27 per cent). 

Dealers going digital 

As digital becomes the primary touch point for prospective buyers, automobile brands and dealerships have heightened their online presence to be a part of the consumer’s car-purchasing journey. According to the report, 60 per cent of buyers searched for dealerships online and 56 per cent of users visited dealer websites as a part of their purchase journey. Apart from searching for vehicle pricing, users typically looked for maintenance programs (41 per cent), promotional offers (37 per cent), locations and directions to dealerships (35 per cent), and reviews and recommendations (32 per cent). 

Highlighting opportunities for brands to tap the online consumers, Vikas Agnihotri, Country Director - Sales, Google India, said, “The speed at which Indians are adopting the internet is well established. In the case of the auto industry, 90 per cent buyers are researching online and over 80 per cent are watching videos. From just searching for manufacturers and dealers online, buyers today are actively looking for videos to answer their questions around car features to reviews to vehicle performance and more. Consequently, the focus for auto manufacturers has also moved to creating more immersive experiences that allow them to drive this action.” 


These findings are based on research conducted by Kantar TNS. The research covers 4,000 respondents in India engaged via online or face-to-face interviews with an average length of 25 minutes for telephone interviews and 30+ mins for face-to-face interviews.


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