Consumer journey – How I ended up buying a BMW
Consumer journey has become more complex by the day thanks to the onslaught of technology led media platforms. To understand consumer journey for my brands, I have been using self reflection on how I ended up buying certain things, and then create hypothesis from it. This is my journey of buying my car.
I was happy driving i10 for close to 4 years. It was a nifty little car that served all my needs of the time. The primary requirement was that of city commute, taking me to office, weekend activities, friend’s place & so on. Truth be told, I wasn’t even considering changing the car at that time. Had I thought of a different car, it would have been an i20, which is a gradual upgrade over time. Little did I know that I would upgrade to a BMW & this is the journey which led me to that.
Hailing from Kerala & working in Bangalore, it was but natural for our folks (mine & my wife’s) to expect us to visit them frequently. It is just an overnight train or bus journey to both Calicut or Thrissur for that matter. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. It was the year 2013-14, and we had just made one trip to Calicut, and one to Thrissur . That year our folks gave us the ultimatum to come home more often, failing which they would book us the tickets in advance. Given the nature of my job, which made me travel frequently, I honestly did not know where I would be the next week. This also meant that I couldn’t plan for a train journey 3 months in advance. It was then that I decided that I needed a new car, a car that could take me to Kerala comfortably and with ease.
This was the start of my journey to buy a car
Compare this with the majority of the ads from car makers. All the hatchbacks struck out at this point. I started my journey of exploring sedans & MUVs, which I never bothered with in the past. It was a new territory and what does one do in such a scenario? I fell at the feet of Google & Youtube. I found new friends in Autocar, ZigWheels and others. The few weeks I spent on Youtube made me shortlist Verna, Vento, Corrolla & Honda City.
And I thought I just completed my research stage of the journey.
Compare this with the number of non brand, non TVC, non activation videos that are made by the car brands. Imagine the opportunity that these brands have lost in engaging with me with content that I wanted.
As a layman of car research, I next went one friend who knows his ride well. That was the end of the road for Verna in the consideration set. My friend was into European cars by then, and was raving about the performance & the handling that European cars have, which no other cars can possibly do. That brought Skoda Rapid into the mix, after having dropped Verna.
Believe me, I still haven’t gone to any showroom, not taken a single car out for test drive and haven’t figured out the finances. The shortlist had cars in the range of 7 lacs to 18 lacs by then. I had given my contact details to Honda, and never got a call back. In fact, the only visit to a website was to that of Honda & nobody else.
Further research on the performance & reliability of the shortlists, gave me a super strong contender in the form of Corolla Altis, the petrol version. It was powerful, doling of 138 BHP and 173Nm torque. I have also associated Corolla with people I have looked up to like my previous Super Boss to name one.
Even before A test drive, I had decided which car to buy. That is the Power of Content.
Next in the consideration was that of the finances. The carwales & the cardekhos, always gave the ex-showroom price. There is quite a large difference between that and the actual on road price. The on road price of the car I wanted breached the INR 20lacs price tag and that gave me the jitters. The question on my mind was whether I was ready to pay that price for a Toyota, which by the way is a taxi abroad. I was back to square one, and the 3 months of rigorous research was almost scrapped.
It was during this time that my colleague recommended to me to change the league completely & check out pre-owned luxury cars in the same price range as a new Corolla.
Recommendation from a friend can change perspective completely
I have never dreamt of driving a luxury car, let alone owning one, and I found myself going to the nearest pre-owned luxury car outlet. This was the first visit to any showroom, post the initial decision of changing the car. I literally went bonkers sitting inside (not driving) these machine, with the number of features which I didn’t even know existed in a car. I later went to BMW & Audi showroom (Merc was never in the consideration for some reason), only to realise that a brand new car was way beyond my means. I had almost given up on the luxury car option looking the cost, when I got a call from another pre-owned car brand.
It was literally the last effort and see if I can get a car in the same price range. I reached the place, and the next thing I know is that I am taking a BMW 320d out for a test drive. I had never driven a sedan before in life, nor an automatic car. So imagine the sheer joy that one would have, driving this monstrous car around. While it was a good drive, I wasn’t happy and that’s when the sales guy made me drive a 320d Highline (Top end).
That’s when I decided to buy that car without any research
The consumer journey has many triggers. At the end of the day, I found that the strongest trigger was the experience & how that experience made one feel about himself/herself. Once that happens, everything else will fall into place, including the finances.
It is upon the brands to understand their consumer so well, teach their sales team on how to create a delightful experience for the consumers so that they feel happy about themselves buying your car.
By the way, I did do the research about the car, but after giving the down payment. I think it is called rationalising the purchase
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