Videos dominate car buyer research in Gulf region

A large majority of auto buyers make their decision based on research using mobile phone
Online video content was found to feature heavily in the purchasing process for many buyers
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Mon 29 Jan 2018 08:53 AM

Auto shoppers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are increasingly relying on online research and videos to make purchasing decisions, long before they physically enter dealerships, according to new market research from Google.

According to the data, 57 percent of buyers in Saudi Arabia and 44 percent in the UAE start their research with a query on a search engine.

The research also found that a majority of buyers (83 percent in Saudi Arabia, 71 percent in Kuwait and 68 percent in the UAE) decide which car to buy within a two-month time span.

This decision, according to Google, is anchored by smartphones, with 97 percent of buyers in Kuwait, 91 percent in Saudi Arabia and 90 percent in the UAE researching their new cars on their mobile devices.

Customisation features of the vehicle and online car configurators were also found to be very important during the research process, particularly as many buyers (37 percent in Saudi Arabia) make purchase decisions even without performing a test drive. Of Saudi buyers, 81 percent said they use configurators, compared to 70 percent in the UAE.

Notably, online video content was found to feature heavily in the purchasing process for many buyers, with 91 percent of Saudi buyers and 74 percent in the UAE saying that online video introduced them to vehicles they hadn’t previously considered.

Additionally, 84 percent of Kuwaiti buyers said that videos had positively changed their mind about a certain car or manufacturer.

Once a decision on a purchase has been made, a majority of buyers (79 percent in Saudi Arabia and 66 percent) said they found their dealer online, with 41 percent of Saudi buyers and 54 percent of UAE buyers choosing a dealer with whom they had no prior familiarity.

While online car buying remains uncommon, the research found that it is becoming an increasingly interesting option for many buyers, with 67 percent of Saudi buyers and 42 percent of UAE buyers said they’d consider it as an option if available.

“Many consumers do have clear concerns about buying a car online though, such as the lack of physical product experience, personal advice or a test drive,” the report noted. 

Brands that develop clever services to help buyers to overcome these concerns by leveraging digital technology to connect offline experience and online service may well put themselves in a position of advantage.”

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