Time and time again, we have heard managing directors and CEOs of automobile companies say that India is a challenging market and a tough nut to crack. Despite spending billions in market research, car companies are left flabbergasted when prospective buyers donâ€™t respond to their new products in the manner they had expected. Well, before beginning to develop a new product, all manufacturers spend hours trying to understand the needs of the specific target audience.
At times, there is a gap between what the car manufacturer perceives about the market needs and what the car buyers actually seek. Which brings us to an important question that every car manufacturer has been pulling its hair out to answer â€” what exactly do Indian car buyers want?
Understandably, the needs of car buyers in India will vary according to the segment they are looking at. The needs of a prospective entry-level hatchback buyer will be very different from that of a luxury car buyer. Similarly, the priorities of a first-time buyer and someone who is considering upgrading to a bigger car will be different as well. At OVERDRIVE, we receive over hundreds of e-mails each month asking for suggestions from our readers on which car to buy.
Surprisingly, in the majority of these e-mails, car buyers across segments seem to be considering similar parameters in their decision making process. We have now compiled a list of the key factors that seem to influence the car buying decisions solely based on the e-mails received from our readers over the years. We have not conducted any survey to gauge the key factors for car buyers in India. Do note that the listing is not in any particular order as some attributes might be more important to you over others.
Brand and price
For the majority of us, our dream car isnâ€™t our daily driver. That is because not all automotive creations can be called affordable. Buying a car is a financial commitment which requires weeks and at times months of planning. So, when it comes of signing the cheque, one is bound to think twice and get choosy.
Usually, the first priority for all prospective car buyers in our country is deciding the budget. It is not uncommon for an individual to consult friends and family before deciding the budget. In majority of the cases, the budget is flexible and gets extended by around Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000. This happens as after visiting the showroom one tends to reason that going for a higher trim is more sensible as it will be more feature loaded. Buyers take into account the various benefits being offered by the showroom like cash discount, exchange bonus, free extended warranty, lower insurance premium and so on.
Along with the price, the brand of the vehicle is equally important. In our competitive market, very few automobile brands have managed to taste success. Understandably, every brand is perceived differently by buyers. Before choosing a brand, one evaluates the brand in terms of its market reputation, reliability, build quality, technological innovations, ownership issues and so on.
Yes, styling is subjective and what appeals to one be might be repulsive for another. Fact is nowadays cars are used to flaunt success, make a style statement and are considered to be an extension of our personality. So prospective buyers want their car to stand out in a crowd. They are not interested in a safe design which â€˜pleases all and offends noneâ€™. The Renault Kwid is a good example of how an innovatively styled vehicle for its segment has got buyers hooked. So much so that it has got the segment-leader Maruti Suzuki worried.