MRO Magazine

Insights from the First Annual Indian Auto Owner/Buyer Smart Phone Survey Conducted by AWG Research.Driven.Strategy.LLC

March 27, 2015
By Business Wire News


For global car makers, India represents an emerging opportunity, and challenge. The Indian middle class is expanding rapidly: 267 million people in 2015-16; 547 million by 2025-26. High savings rates create a growing pool of Rupees available for luxury items such as cars, TVs, smart phones.

Like many emerging markets, India is defined by two trends. First, two-thirds of the population (a pool of 800 million) is under age 35. Second, in a country notorious for poor “wired” infrastructure, voice/data transmission is exclusively wireless. It’s estimated that in 2015 the number of Indian smart phone users, spurred by 225 million new subscribers, will surpass the US.

The following insights are based on 1,002 smart phone surveys conducted by AWG Research during November, 2014. While smart phone surveys have inherent biases, in India the smart phone sample skews in the same direction as the market, and contains a high proportion of Millennials.

For Millennials car ownership is more aspiration than immediate priority: 10% anticipate car shopping in the next year, another 30% aspire to buy a car in 1-2 years. For now, their preferred transportation is a motor cycle or scooter.

The desire for car ownership is tempered by current realities, the most important being fuel costs and price (including the excise tax). Those obstacles aside, these consumers will buy based on brand reputation, interior comfort, and whether the car offers the latest technology. Size and exterior styling are less important than what’s inside the doors and under the hood.

Looking ahead, half of Indians surveyed expressed interest in vehicles using alternative fuels. An electric car tops the list (hybrid, plug in, solar) followed by natural gas or bio-diesel.

Audi, buoyed by the recent A3 launch, topped the shopping list. The A3 fits the aspirations of India’s new car buyers: a compact luxury car with a strong engine and comfortable interior. No wonder Audi leads India’s compact luxury segment, nosing out BMW.

When considering more “practical” versus “aspirational” choices, the make/models on the shopping list include Maruti/Suzuki Swift, Honda City, Ford Ecosport, Hyundai Elite/i20, Renault Duster, Hyundai Verna, VW Vento, and Mahindra Scorpio.

The survey also introduces the Edwards Commitment scale, developed by Dr. Darrel Edwards and Strategic Vision (SV), to India. The “Love scale” measures the strength and nature of the emotional connection between an individual and their experience with a service or product. Indian car owners report a strong emotional connection: 43% report they “Love” their car (4X the percentage that “Hate” their car). For Indian car owners “love” is driven heavily by engine performance and interior comfort. While reliability is foundational to any experience, it doesn’t ‘drive’ commitment as strongly as “leverageable” aspects of the experience, such as engine performance or a well-appointed interior.

The insights uncovered by the survey can make a positive difference in the short term to attract young buyers aspiring to purchase a new vehicle. There are many that will not purchase a new auto for a few years no matter what manufacturers do to lure them to a dealership. But, when the time (and money) is right, they will purchase a new vehicle, and love it.

Subsequent waves of the Indian Buyer Survey will address the path-to-purchase leading to the car dealerships, and then address how the dealership experience reinforces (or compromises) the brand. It appears the sales team will have their hands full balancing consumer’s long wish lists and limited budgets. But, if the past is any indicator, Indian consumers are already saving to buy that new car.

Download the full press release with additional insights at Or meet me, Armeen Gould, at the New York Auto Show April 1st or 2nd.

AWG Research.Driven.Strategy.LLC is a research-based and data driven consultancy founded by Armeen Gould. Armeen has over twenty-five years’ experience studying decision making. Armeen’s passion for automotive research reached new heights with his involvement launching the seminal “Find Your Own Road” campaign for Saab Cars USA – to this day the only automotive campaign brave enough to show only an animated representation of the car.

AWG Research.Driven.Strategy.LLC
Armeen Gould, 717-802-6565