Transparency is a word that is uttered with caution in this region. The lack of information on many aspects of the automotive industry is obvious. Some aspects will change soon, however. We’ve had the pleasure of talking to Satish Singh, an automotive-industry veteran who started Tetrahedron Consulting to build up information on the GCC car market, one step at a time.
In Satish’s own words, his work is to hear the “voice of the customer and bring forth consumer insights” involving the car-buying process, and pass along the information to dealers. “One of the key things which we wanted to do was bring together different manufacturers on the same table and start a syndicated research project which wasn’t done in the region before, in the automotive industry. So one of the first major projects which we embarked on was understanding new vehicle buyers and clearly understand the demographic profile of real buyers, the entire vehicle purchase process, dissatisfaction with the new vehicle, etc.”
The first “wave” of this survey was conducted in 2010, involving more than 6,000 interviews, and preparations for the second “wave” is ongoing. “We started with the main markets in the GCC, which is Saudi Arabia and UAE, and going forward we plan to expand to other markets in the region.” The survey currently covers the sub-compact (B Car), compact (C Car), midsize (CD Car), midsize luxury (Luxury Car 3 & 4), small SUV (SSUV), midsize crossover (MCUV), and midsize SUV (MSUV) categories.
According to Satish, one of the most interesting findings was the number of younger consumers that really make up the mainstream segment. “So far, it used to be a case where we would look at younger consumers in the rear-view mirror. So the entry of these new consumers brings with it a completely new set of expectations.”
Satish also says that buyers are using traditional as well as new sources of information. Apparently many car buyers are using the internet to research their future car purchases instead of traditional media. But the decision-making process is still influenced by sources which are most trusted, including friends, family and word-of-mouth.
Tetrahedron already has a number of automakers on-board for this consumer survey. “We’re the voice of the consumer , understanding buyer behaviour. So the manufacturers who participate in this study, they get these insights from the point-of-view of customers, such as what the rivals are, how the purchase process is, how many consumers buy it on loan or finance, or the importance of prepaid maintenance, for instance. That is the level of detail and insight that we have. So the manufacturers who participate in the study get this entire spectrum of information regarding this new vehicle purchase process.”
Detailed results from this survey have so far been made available only to carmakers. The survey is set to expand all over the GCC, so if you get approached by one of Tetrahedron’s survey people, be sure to let them know how you really feel about your local car dealer. We expect consumer research such as this to help carmakers make the car-buying process better at the dealership level by bringing the negative aspects to light.