Google's car buyer's research
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Google released yet another trend finding and this time throwing some light on how relevant companies like Petrolheads.in are in the entire car buying process in India.

The highlight of the findings were that:

  • 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


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%).

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.

These findings were found to be 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%.

In terms of query volume growth: SUVs was found to be 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, the company 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 the company 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 were 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.