CapGemini publishes 2012/13 global automotive study findings
Online configurators are the way to go for potential car buyers, says CapGemini's annual automotive sector report
What's CapGemini, you say? Well, we'll simplify it for you - Capgemini is a consulting, technology and outsourcing service, which, along with a global research firm named ORC International, recently released the findings of the 14th annual global automotive study, "Cars Online 12/13". This is a global survey that provides insight into customer preferences and behaviour during the interest, purchase and ownership phase.
The sample for the survey comprised 8000 consumers in eight countries who were representatives of the in-market vehicle-buying population. These were customers who intended to buy a vehicle in the next 6 months (which means they weren't actually going to buy a vehicle in the next 6 months).
According to the findings of this survey, during the research phase of shortlisting options, car dealers remain the main source for information, apart from family and friends and of course, TG.com. However, dealer visits have shifted to the end of the research phase now. What people actually do these days is scrounge through manufacturers’ websites, TV and print advertisements and web forums and blogs. The well-informed buyer of today only visits the dealer about a couple of months before buying the car, and that is the small window of opportunity for the dealer to be able to seal the deal. Customers have also shown an inclination towards a digital experience in the showroom with virtual test drives and 3D virtual vehicle configurators.
After the research comes, naturally, the purchase phase. Customers are increasingly relying on user-generated content distributed by social media for purchase decisions and within that too the effect of positive comments is more impactful than negative comments. Apart from online information demand, there has been quite a high demand for online vehicle purchasing options too as customers expect price discounts for having surpassed the dealer.
Alternative to traditional vehicle ownership, mobility solutions like vehicle-sharing, car club memberships, ride-share programmes too are fast gaining acceptance in developing markets. Indians also seem enthusiastic about e-vehicles, with almost 60% of them expecting fully-electric vehicles to become a feasible option in the next two years if the cost and infrastructure can be improved. Whether that happens or not, remains to be seen.
Purchase isn’t as much of a hassle; the real challenge for most OEMs starts after the car drives out of the dealership. Even though many customers prefer purchasing parts and accessories online due to discounts and ease of transaction, traditional after-sales services still need to be initiated and followed up by the dealers. This post-sale communication is the weakest link in the chain and can be dealt with better if OEMs can involve dealers in the online sales channel.
In a nutshell, the process of buying a car is fast becoming a totally virtual experience. Do you agree, TG.commers?