A new report titled ‘Car Buying Behavior in the GCC’ conducted by YallaMotor finds that a whopping 67 percent of respondents to its survey cited online research as their main medium of information when making a decision to buy a car. This trend seems to justify the sizable spends that car OEMs are shifting towards digital campaigns. The second most popular channel of information is what we term as “influencers”. However, instead of celebrities with flashy social media accounts and millions of followers, these influencers mainly consisted of close family and friends. Car buyers seem to trust the recommendations and opinions of their inner social circles when making a decision. Comparatively, the impact of other traditional marketing media like newspapers, TV and Radio is gradually decreasing.

The survey revealed that third-party/unbiased portals are the ones capable of shaping opinions and were the most trusted source of information with 34.92 percent. Social media comes second with 25.23 percent, distributor websites in third place at 21.84 percent, and online magazines/blogs seem to be the least trusted source ranking fourth with 18.01 percent. Going deeper into the demographics reveals Social Media ranks first for women with 30.01 percent followed very closely by third-party websites with 28.51 percent.

According to Jorge Bialade, General Manager of YallaMotor, “At YallaMotor we are obsessed with understanding the car buyer’s point of view. In this particular report, you will find insights and feedback coming from car owners in order to better understand what are their sources of information and, among those, which ones they trust the most during the car buying research phase. In addition, how long they take to make their purchasing decision, how many times they walked into a showroom before purchasing the vehicle. This is our contribution to enable a better buying experience by understanding the typical car buyer journey.”

Meanwhile, Alan Whaley, Founder and Chairman of AMENA Professional said: “Dealers/importers need to take note of the fact that online research is a major contributing factor in the purchase process, in ensuring that their online presence is relevant, easily accessible, regularly updated, uncluttered and comprehensive. This report also highlights how, when and where potential consumers spend their time prior to making their purchasing decision. It is therefore imperative for OEMs and dealers/importers to understand the right channels to reach their target audience. For instance, women tend to consult social media far more than men do in their purchasing decision.”

GCC Car Buyers insights

"Clearly, buyers are a lot more resistant to visiting showrooms which gives dealers a very small window to make a good first impression and close the deal."

“Dealers/importers need to take note of the fact that online research is a major contributing factor in the purchase process, in ensuring that their online presence is relevant, easily accessible, regularly updated, uncluttered and comprehensive. This report highlights how, when and where potential consumers spend their time prior to making their purchasing decision. It is therefore imperative for OEMs and dealers/importers to understand the right channels to reach their target audience,” AMENA Founder and Chairman Alan Whaley said.

Another finding of the report is that GCC car buyers seem to have a very different behavior as compared to other territories. A majority of car buyers make their decision in less than a month, whereas in other markets such as the U.S. or Europe, it traditionally takes buyers three times longer. It finds that 27.31 percent of current car owners made their decision in less than ten days. Also, data reflects that 64.59 percent purchased their vehicle in less than a month.

It states that 27.26 percent of car buyers only visited the showroom once and 22.77 percent visited the showroom twice. At this point in time, 50 percent of car buyers are visiting the showroom up to two times to purchase the vehicle they want. “Clearly, buyers are a lot more resistant to visiting showrooms which gives dealers a very small window to make a good first impression and close the deal. In addition, these responses show most of them already made their decision before walking in,” the report finds.

Going further, the survey finds less than 50 percent of car buyers will recommend the dealer they purchased their car from to a friend. While 45.30 percent will recommend, 40.88 percent are not entirely sure about it, and 13.82 percent definitely won’t.

Across the GCC, Toyota is by far the most popular brand with nearly double the audience of Hyundai which comes in second place.

Across the GCC, Toyota is by far the most popular brand with nearly double the audience of Hyundai which comes in second place. Nissan takes up a very close third position. If we zoom in to a country specific level, Toyota, as expected, remains the most popular brand. However, it is in the second and third position where we see some changes. For instance, in the UAE, Nissan is the second most popular brand followed by Mercedes-Benz.

In Saudi Arabia, Hyundai is able to keep a solid second position (not far from Toyota in first position) followed by Mercedes-Benz. In Kuwait, it is the opposite of Saudi; Mercedes-Benz ranks second and Hyundai comes in third. In Qatar, Nissan gets the second position and Mitsubishi the third; making the Qatari market the only one where Japanese brands own all top three positions. For Oman and Bahrain, Hyundai is also the second most popular brand followed by Nissan.

Chinese brands capture a respectable 5.65 percent of the interest share within the GCC car buying community. The most popular, nearly doubling Geely, is the recently relaunched MG Motor. The third position goes to GAC followed by Changan and Chery.

On a model level and across the GCC, the Toyota Land Cruiser is the most popular vehicle in the region followed by its strongest competitor, the Nissan Patrol. Surprisingly, the Nissan Kicks falls into the third place.

A total of 3,943 responses were collected by YallaMotor between the June 17 and 23, 2019. 1,527 respondents were from the UAE, 830 from KSA, 419 from Oman, 383 from Bahrain, 408 from Qatar, and 376 from Kuwait. This report also includes insights coming from the analysis of more than 6 million car buyers and drivers that browsed YallaMotor during the first two quarters of 2019. A subsidiary of the Middle East’s leading job site Bayt.com, YallaMotor was launched in 2012 and has grown to become the most visited and trusted automotive portal in the region.