The study surveyed over 8,000 consumers in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, the UK and US in 2010 and provides a detailed analysis of consumer vehicle buying behavior around the world including shopping patterns, social media usage, online buying, green vehicles, customer interaction and aftersales and servicing. The report reveals that although the percentage of consumers expressing satisfaction with the vehicle buying process is slightly increasing (70 percent in 2010 in comparison with 69% in 2009), there is evidence of a shift in consumer expectations, which will have important implications for vehicle manufacturers and dealers in mature and developing markets.
Key findings include:
- Demand for green vehicles continues to grow steadily – 43 percent of respondents say they own a fuel-efficient or alternative-fuel vehicle, up from 41 percent the prior year and 36 percent two years ago. 73 percent expect full electric vehicles to become a viable option within the next five years.
- Over 40 percent of consumers would like the ability to purchase vehicles online, using the Internet for the complete end-to-end buying process, and not just for research.
- Significant numbers of consumers are looking to social media for information and opinions from other consumers and increasingly want to find both qualitative and quantitative information from a single online location. But information sources vary significantly by country with use of social media and other consumer-to-consumer online tools particularly high in developing markets.
- The vehicle buying cycle continues to shrink, with more than half of consumers starting their research within just two months of purchase.
- Alternative buying options such as mobility packages, vehicle-sharing programs and ride-share services are growing in popularity, particularly in developing markets, as they offer cost savings and convenience and are viewed as more environmentally friendly. More than a third of respondents are interested in alternatives to the traditional purchase/lease model.
Consumer buying patterns: mature vs. developing markets
Given the relative newness of developing markets, it is not surprising that vehicle buying patterns differ from mature markets, with many consumers being first-time car buyers who have different perspectives on what is important. The study finds that consumers in developing markets are much more demanding. For example, only around 40 percent of respondents from developing regions will travel more than 10 miles to a dealership to purchase a vehicle, compared with almost two-thirds of consumers in mature markets, and in China this falls to only 24 percent. Similarly, consumers in developing markets consider a wider range of factors when making their vehicle choices and are more demanding about the response time they expect from dealers and manufacturers. For example, in China and Brazil 60 percent of consumers expect a response within four hours, compared with 29 percent in Germany and 34 percent in France. Major differences are also apparent in the types of information sources used in the buying process with consumers in mature markets relying primarily on webbased sources with those in developing markets using more traditional information sources as well.
Green vehicles: From mileage to mobility
Ownership of fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles is also higher in developing markets, compared with mature markets, heavily influenced by Brazil which boasts the highest levels of green vehicle ownership at 72 percent of respondents. Although ownership levels in mature markets are slightly lower, green consumer sentiment is still strong and it is clear that more environmentally friendly vehicles represent a real opportunity for vehicle manufacturers. Electric vehicles, particularly hybrid gas/electric cars, are the most commercially mature and viable of the various kinds of alternative vehicles and have demonstrated the potential to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Gas/electric hybrids are the primary type of alternative-fuel vehicle that consumers currently own or plan to buy, cited by 34 percent of respondents.
The primary reason to own a green vehicle continues to be fuel economy, followed by impact on the environment and as this becomes an increasing focus for consumers, new mobility options are also generating significant interest. Mobility packages represent a significant shift in buying behavior and center around buying services on a regular basis rather than a single product every few years - for example, car club membership or, for electric vehicles, battery recharging services and pay-per-mile options alongside a vehicle that is provided at a very low cost. These types of alternative buying models offer consumers not only convenience and cost savings but are also considered more environmentally friendly. However for the automotive industry, this raises questions about new business models and new technologies - and both traditional and new players will need to consider the potential impact of this shifting demand on their business.
“In 2009, the automotive industry was characterized by significant volatility but in contrast, this year has seen movement towards stability and even growth in mature markets as vehicle sales gradually improve, together with strong expansion in developing markets,” said Nick Gill, Capgemini Global Automotive Sector Leader. “These gains are also mirrored in our research which shows that consumer satisfaction with vehicle buying has increased this year in a number of countries. However, the automotive industry cannot afford to be complacent and must listen and respond to local consumer demands as the marketplace continues to evolve.”
About Capgemini’s Cars Online 10/11 study
Capgemini worked with SmartRevenue, a Ridgefield, Connecticut-based research firm, to conduct the survey for Cars Online 10/11. All analysis and interpretation of the data has been made by Capgemini in collaboration with the Car Internet Research Program (CIRP) of the University of Ottawa, Canada. In total, more than 8,000 consumers were surveyed in eight countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. All consumers surveyed were in-market (23% plan to buy or lease a vehicle within two months; 34% in two to six months; 32% in seven to 12 months; and 11% in 13 to 15 months).
Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, enables its clients to transform and perform through technologies. Capgemini provides its clients with insights and capabilities that boost their freedom to achieve superior results through a unique way of working, the Collaborative Business ExperienceTM. The Group relies on its global delivery model called Rightshore®, which aims to get the right balance of the best talent from multiple locations, working as one team to create and deliver the optimum solution for clients. Present in more than 30 countries, Capgemini reported 2009 global revenues of EUR 8.4 billion and employs 95,000 people worldwide.
About Capgemini’s Automotive Practice
Capgemini’s Automotive practice serves 14 of the world’s 15 largest vehicle manufacturers and 12 of the 15 largest automotive suppliers. More than 3,000 automotive specialists generate value for companies through global delivery capabilities and industry-specific service offerings such as Integrated Lead Management, B2C Web Strategy, Service and Parts Management, Supplier Transformation, Optimization of Dealer-Focused Operations, Electric Vehicles and E-Mobility Services, Application Outsourcing for Automotive OEMs and Global Emerging-Market Sourcing.
Rightshore® is a trademark belonging to Capgemini.