As consumer demands and tastes evolve, vehicle buyers in India are shifting gears on what drives them to purchase a new vehicle, according to the J.D. Power 2019 India Sales Satisfaction Index (Mass Market) Study.

The study finds that buyers place more emphasis (up 9 percentage points from 2018) on vehicle styling, both exterior and interior, when deciding on a model. Other aspects such as performance and reliability (both up 7 percentage points), as well as technology (up 5 percentage points), also play bigger roles in determining choice of vehicle. On the other hand, aspects declining in importance are price of the vehicle/installments and the ability to obtain financing (both down 4 percentage points).

Customers with a monthly household income exceeding Rs. 75,000 account for 33% of all buyers in 2019 – a marked increase from 18% in 2017. Consequently, customers are now able to cover the cost of a car with fewer months of income than before (15 months in 2019 vs. 18 months in 2017).

“The Indian car buyer of today is far more discerning than ever before,” said Kaustav Roy, Director and Country Head for India, J.D. Power. “With clear expectations on vehicle design and features, today’s buyer preferences are shifting from price consciousness to those that are driven by vehicle looks and content.”

Following are additional key findings of the 2019 Study:

• Prices on the rise, more so for small cars: Customers indicate that purchase price has been increasing over the past three years, with prices 5% higher than 2018 and 11% higher than 2017. This increase is most evident in the small car segment (9% higher than 2017) and relatively less so in the SUV segment (3% higher than 2017).

• Fewer buyers experience sales pressure: A smaller proportion of customers indicate problems such as dealers being “pushy” while selling the vehicle (15% in 2019 vs. 22% in 2018); attempting to change promised prices (11% vs. 17%); or difficulty getting a “straight answer” on price (14% vs. 18%).

• Faster and smoother delivery: The time between booking a new vehicle to actual delivery has dropped to 10 days from 12 days in 2018. More vehicles are also being delivered without problems (92% vs. 83% in 2018) such as unwashed vehicles, scratches and dents, missing features and more.

Study rankings

Hyundai ranks highest in overall sales satisfaction with a score of 873. Mahindra (872) ranks second and Toyota (854) ranks third. Overall sales satisfaction for the mass market segment is 846 (on a 1,000-point scale), an increase of 4 points from 2018.

The J.D. Power 2019 India Sales Satisfaction Index (Mass Market) Study is based on responses from 6,583 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle between September 2018 and June 2019. The study was fielded from March through September 2019.

Now in its 20th year, the study examines six factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction with their new vehicle purchase experience in the mass market segment. In order of effect on overall sales satisfaction, those factors are dealership facility (22%); delivery process (21%); dealer sales consultant (21%); paperwork completion (17%); working out the deal (15%); and dealership website (3%).

The study also includes the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which measures new vehicle owners’ likelihood to recommend their vehicle brand on a 0-10 point-scale.

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power has offices serving North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.