Business Standard

Kitna deti hai? is the slogan for car buyers


Swaraj Baggonkar Mumbai
Remember the series of recent Maruti Suzuki ads? In one of them, a NASA scientist is giving a brief description of a spacecraft to a group of Indian tourists, who look pretty much impassive even as the scientist divulges some high-end details about the spacecraft. The most inquisitive query about the high-tech space shuttle unfolds when one of the tourists sincerely asks: “Kitna deti hai?”
The question brilliantly sums up the obsession for mileage among Indian consumers. A study by consumer research agency J D Power has shown why the ad was on the dot. According to the study, one among three car buyers in India has rejected a vehicle of his/her choice only because they found another model delivering higher mileage.
Owners of one or more cars looking for new buys in the market are also the ones most likely to experiment with newly launched products but would ultimately settle for a model that delivers the maximum distance for every drop of fuel.
“Repeat (car) buyers tend to shop more than first-time buyers, but this has further increased in 2012 with the launch of several new models in the country,” says Mohit Arora, executive director at J D Power Asia Pacific, Singapore.
The study, which examines the reasons why new-vehicle shoppers consider but ultimately reject certain models in favour of another, finds that 28 percent of new-vehicle buyers considered one or more vehicles before selecting the one they ultimately purchased, up from 23 per cent in 2011.
The increase in cross-shopping rates is primarily driven by repeat new-vehicle buyers — shoppers who are either purchasing an additional vehicle or replacing their household vehicle—as more than one-third of repeat buyers considered one or more models during their shopping activity, an increase of nearly 9 per cent from 2011.
Mayank Pareek, chief operating officer (marketing and sales) Maruti Suzuki India, says, “Mileage has become an extremely important criterion when it comes to car buying. Every company is working overtime to improve the mileage figures. Buyers of the A1 and A2 segment are most sensitive to mileage figures and their decision is based almost entirely on this.”
In terms of consideration, car market leader Maruti Suzuki continues to be the most considered nameplate among vehicle buyers, despite a decline in consideration rate year over year. Conversely, the consideration rates of such makes as Toyota and Mahindra sharply increased from 2011.
As petrol retails at more than 40 per cent premium than diesel, Maruti tops the charts when it comes to offering alternative fuel support other than diesel. For instance, the market leader has provided CNG/LPG options to those models which cannot be run on diesel engines such as Wagon R, Estilo and Eeco.
“The first time car buyer is the more anxious of the two and does not have much idea about the product he is buying. He does several rounds of researches on the net, through friends and relatives and dealers before making a purchase. They make up about 40 per cent of the market and are more sensitive to mileage figures”, adds Pareek.
Little surprise then that every car maker on Thursday is flashing the mileage of its products at almost every promotional campaign.
Tata Motors, India's third largest passenger vehicle maker, for instance, has been trying to break into the forte of Maruti Suzuki with the Indica eV2 promoting it as the country's most fuel efficient car delivering 25kmpl.
Engineers on Thursday are working round-the-clock to reduce the vehicle weight and improve fuel efficiency of the car which on Thursday stands 60-70 per cent more than what it was a decade ago. Almost every petrol hatchback delivers a mileage of nearly 20kmpl while that of diesel is even higher, according to figures provided by the vehicle research agency Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI).
The 2012 India Escaped Shopper Study is based on responses of 7,382 buyers and 2,721 rejecters of new cars and new utility vehicles who purchased their vehicle between September 2011 and April 2012. The study was fielded from March to July 2012.

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First Published: Sep 28 2012 | 12:00 AM IST

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