Shoppers in India Increasingly Researching Vehicles during Purchase Process, J.D. Power Finds

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Maruti Suzuki Most Considered Nameplate for 12th Consecutive year

New-vehicle shopping in India has evolved considerably over the last decade, with buyers increasingly using the internet and media during the shopping process, according to the J.D. Power 2016 India Escaped Shopper Study SM (ESS), released today. The number of new-vehicle buyers using the internet and magazines to research vehicles during the shopping process has more than doubled during the past decade, to 48% in 2016 from 19% in 2006.

“In the past, new-vehicle shoppers were largely limited to information they received from close friends and relatives or from television and print advertising,” said Mohit Arora, executive director at J.D. Power. “With increased internet penetration, especially in the larger cities, shoppers are turning to the internet for much of their information. Smartphones and tablets are aiding shoppers’ access to the internet. That means automakers need to ensure their websites include the information buyers are seeking and are designed in a way that is easy to use on both computers and mobile devices.”

The study also finds that shopping behavior varies across the different regions of India. Cross-shopping is higher among new-vehicle buyers in the south, compared with those in the north (32% vs. 25%, respectively). Further, more car buyers in the south spend time researching the vehicles they are considering, visiting dealerships and taking test drives, compared with their counterparts in the north region of the country. Additionally, 56% of new-vehicle buyers in the south also use the internet for information while shopping, compared with 41% of buyers in the north.

“Automotive manufacturers are being constantly challenged to meet the needs of the Indian consumer today,” said Shantanu Nandi Majumdar, director at J.D. Power. “Regional dissimilarities have always existed, and they greatly influence the way potential new-car buyers shop for their vehicle. Automakers need to identify these differences and create an appropriate shopping experience that caters to the characteristics of each region.” Other key findings of the study include:

  • Newly Launched Vehicles Attract Attention: All-new vehicles are attracting shoppers’ attention. Yet, a slightly higher percentage of repeat buyers (13%) are considering newly launched models than first-time buyers (10%). More shoppers who consider a newly launched model research the vehicle than those who consider an existing model (53% vs. 46%, respectively).
  • Price Is a Key Consideration: Shoppers who consider another model but later reject it cite “price is too high” as the primary reason for rejection (32%), followed by “wanted better fuel economy” (30%).
  • Brand Shoppers Consider Most: Maruti Suzuki is the most considered nameplate among newvehicle shoppers for a 12th consecutive year, with 45% of all shoppers purchasing one of its models, up from 40% in 2015.
  • Customer Retention Improves: Overall customer retention is at 38% in 2016, up slightly from 37% in 2015. Hyundai improves its customer retention rate the most from 2015.

The 2016 India Escaped Shopper Study is based on responses from 9,408 buyers and 4,303 rejecters of new cars and new utility vehicles who purchased their vehicle between September 2015 and April 2016. The study, which examines the reasons new-vehicle shoppers consider but ultimately reject certain models in favor of another, was fielded from March through October 2016.