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90% of auto sales in India were digitally influenced in 2018, says Google study

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Imagine booking a car online and getting a free home delivery. Well that day is not too far away. Today, 90% of Indian car purchases are digitally driven, up from 74% 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%), search (90%) and, brand / dealer websites (56%) are the key digital touchpoints that play a crucial role in influencing a car-buyer’s decision.

Demystifying the automobile buying journey of the typical Indian consumer, the report states that today, 90% 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 four percent in the last two years – from 11% in 2016 to 7% in 2018.

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% in 2016 to 80% 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% of those who watched online videos, either visited the dealership (52%), scheduled a test drive (45%), requested a price quote (40%) or further researched finance and lease offers (27%).

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% of buyers searched for dealerships online and 56% 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%), promotional offers (37%), locations and directions to dealerships (35%), and reviews and recommendations (32%).

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% buyers are researching online and over 80% 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 were 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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