Interestingly, the study found that 3 out of 10 Malaysians expected to drive a lot less over the next three years as ride-sharing becomes more common and Malaysian public transportation improves. On the national front, daily commuters are projected to use more public transportation options with a 40% target by 2030.
Fast forward to now however, changes within the transportation industry has brought about a new outlook. Car ownership consideration today isn’t the way it used to be. In 2017, Malaysian car purchases declined by 0.6 percent compared to the previous year, and the Malaysian Automotive Association is forecasting total industry volume (TIV) for new cars to grow at around 5 percent next year before slowly declining to 2.1 percent in 2021.
Google and Kantar TNS recently conducted a study to track the typical Malaysian consumers’ path to purchasing cars.
Interestingly, the study found that 3 out of 10 Malaysians expected to drive a lot less over the next three years as ride-sharing becomes more common and Malaysian public transportation improves. On the national front, daily commuters are projected to use more public transportation options with a 40 percent target by 2030 according to the National Land Public Transport Master Plan.
With today’s consumer being more deliberate about their big ticket purchase, the Google-Kantar TNS study focused on four key stages to a new set of wheels:
- Purchase consideration - “I want a new car.”
- Initial research -- “I want to know my options.”
- Further research -- “I want to narrow down my options.”
- Point of sale -- “I want to purchase my final choice.”
Research is the most important stage of the journey; with 34 percent of consumers saying they approach the purchase from no prior product knowledge. Since cars are a complicated purchase and demand a large investment, consumers rely heavily on research to help them make decisions. They really take their time: 96 percent of Malaysians conduct their initial research online over an average duration of two months before they decide on a car.
While brand loyalty is high among Malaysians, with 8 out of 10 typically returning to the same brand, the average number of brands considered before final purchase is 2.7 -- which leaves a lot of room for new brands and models to be considered during the rather long purchase journey.
Indeed, 37 percent of respondents say they ended up buying a brand they did not initially intend. Much of the opportunity to influence happens during the online initial research process, with 74 percent of consumers saying they are open to consider new brands.
93 percent of Malaysian consumers say online search is an influential source of information, and what they search for greatly informs their purchasing decision. ‘User reviews’ tops the search list, followed by ‘best prices’, ‘professional reviews’, ‘price comparisons’, ‘quality performance’ and ‘offers.’
Online videos are super effective during the further research stage. As many as 87 percent of consumers followed up their initial research by watching review videos and testimonials and said those influenced their final car model choice.
Dealerships remain critical offline touchpoints, and online research is crucial for driving consumers there.
More importantly, both search and video work hand-in-hand: 1-in-4 consumers went to dealerships after using search and 37 percent (or roughly 4-in-10) of consumers visited a dealership after watching online video, and an outright 1-in-4 decided to purchase the car directly because of watching an online video about the brand.
“By promoting prices, quality and performance on the right channels and/or stage of the journey, brands can grab attention and steer consumers their way,” said Meredith Wallace, business development manager at Google Malaysia.
[##eye## View full infographic here]