175% surge in online inquiries for used cars under Rs. 3 Lakh (Sept 2019 vs Sept 2020)
The novel coronavirus pandemic has upended businesses across the world resulting in dwindling revenues across several industries. However, amidst the most challenging of circumstances, CarWale, India’s largest auto media vehicle, has reported an accelerated overall growth of 33% as compared to pre – Covid levels. With evolved consumer behavior laying impetus on personal mobility and driving this change, the automotive industry is booming like never before.
It has brought to the fore some disruptive behavior patterns that has kept the industry ahead of the curve despite the national contagion. Our internal data states that vehicle purchase has climbed up the priority list of consumers especially during the pandemic.
Micro budget for big purchases
Owing to the impact of the pandemic on the job market, a large segment of consumers have tightened their budgets and decreased spending on big items. However, due to the lack of social distancing in Indian public transport systems, personal mobility has emerged as a non – negotiable. CarWale and CarTrade have witnessed a 175% surge in online inquiries for used cars under Rs. 3 Lakh ever since lockdown restrictions were eased. Additionally, there has been a resultant 146% upsurge in car loan leads. Although there has been a rise in inquiries by 30% for hatchback cars, considering the pent up demand, there has also been a sparking interest for other ‘affordable luxury’ body types like SUV and MUV. As millennials and first-time buyers show a growing penchant for ‘economy’ cars to commute to work and for everyday usage, the SUV and MUV category is also emerging as a competitive segment.
Growing dependency on digital platforms to research about new cars
CarWale has become the preferred platform for online research among consumers who want to buy new cars and are looking to stay updated on the latest launches. Compared to Sept 2019, the website has witnessed a 36% increase in traffic for new car searches, with a 91% increase in customers searching for on-road price of vehicles in September 2020. With its user-friendly features, ample information, photos, and videos of cars, along with expert and user reviews, consumers are well prepared to make an informed purchase decision before walking into a showroom.
Online space emerges as the most convenient marketplace for purchasing used cars
According to Google’s Auto Gear Shift India Report 2020, 94% of used car buyers chose to research online to find their desired vehicle and all used car sellers preferred digital platforms to research and connect with buyers. Gaining traction from this demand, CarWale and CarTrade witnessed a 67% increase in unique users on a YOY basis, September 2019 vs September 2020. The auto media vehicle received 55% more inquiries on every used car listed on the website in September 2020 as compared to the quarter covering November 2019- January 2020, It was observed that 54% consumers inquired for more than 3 brands while searching for used cars. The brand boasted of an active listing of a whopping 63,903 from dealers and individual sellers in November 2020. With non-unique leads pegged at over 50,000 in the last 3 months for used car sellers, it has emerged as the ‘analytical buyer’s’ most trusted platform. Individual listing on the app leaped at an average of 30,324 between the period September to November allowing consumers easy access to a pool of them at the click of a button. Another contactless yet convenient feature added to the website enables any buyer to quote their desired price and negotiate online with the seller for a car they are interested in, as opposed to the same happening at a dealership during later stages of negotiations.
The New normal brings in new opportunities for the auto industry
An increasing number of consumers are showing confidence in using contactless services offered by digital platforms, resulting in an uptick for digital sales and online inquiries for cars. CarWale has seen a 20% growth rate in lead conversion for September- October 2020 vs 2019; the resultant dual effect of post lockdown shopping and the festive season. Riding on this shift in consumer behavior, the website recently added a handful of new features to further enhance user experience.
Commenting on industry insights, Mr. Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO of CarWale and BikeWale said, “It’s been a near-term profitable year for CarWale so far. Our strategies are hinged around customer centricity, augmenting tools to elevate customer experience, consumer reassurance and employee retention. We understand that a car is by and large the second most expensive asset a consumer purchases and are hence heavily focused on optimizing efforts to ensure a seamless and hassle-free experience. We aim to serve car buyers and sellers in the most comprehensive and convenient way.”
He further added, “Currently, with a base of 28 million unique visitors a month, CarWale and its two wheeler portal BikeWale, have witnessed a 38% increase in unique visitors in Sept 2020, a 21% increase in mobile app installs, and a 27% increase in app sessions as compared to September 2019. And interestingly, 91% and 92% of our visitors access the CarWale and BikeWale mobile site respectively through their smartphone for quick research.”