If you wanted to buy an electronic device a couple of years back, there was always this ‘guy-geek’ in your circle of friends whom you would call upon. He would definitely know the market like the back of his hand. He would give you some much needed but heavily boring gyaan about clock speeds and sensor sizes. A conversation that would help you purchase the much needed gadget but would leave you with a headache.
Let’s fast forward to today. How would you buy an electronic device, for example a digital camera today? The first thing you would do is put it up on the social network of your choice – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.
Or, you would find a forum that is discussing about cameras and ask the people there. The chances are that the ‘guy-geek’ is also there, who is giving his valuable inputs. But, there are even greater chances of hearing from normal people (non-geeks) and their experience about the device that you are about to buy. And, sometimes, that information is a lot more important than just an objective comparison provided by a magazine or your geek-friend.
This is exactly what our findings tell us too, according to Text100s Digital Index – Consumer Electronics, Indians place less importance on word-of-mouth when researching Traditional Electronics and Home Appliances (33%). However they do rely heavily on what may be termed the ‘modern word-of-mouth’ – online sharing – particularly when researching Smart Devices and Wearable Technology (49%-56%).
Why do you think we are seeing this shift to online research rather than word-of-mouth. Yes, its true that we have better broadband penetration in terms of fixed line as well as mobile broadband. But, as history has told us, its more about the application of technology than the technology itself.
The biggest reason for this is the opportunity for people to complete the purchase cycle easily in India. Earlier, we could research for hours for a product that we wished to buy, but buying it was a different story altogether. I remember waiting for months for some of the game titles to launch in India before I could buy them. But, no more.
Let me illustrate this with an example of my cousin, who stays in Gwalior. One of the major cities in Madhya Pradesh in India, Gwalior has an important place in the history of central India. It is a small city with an abundance of monuments that are a photographer’s delight.
My cousin, who has been born and brought up in Gwalior, was always mesmerised what his home city offered. He started his photographic journey with a a traditional film-based Nikon SLR. And, he was using the same camera for the longest time. Mainly because of two reasons – firstly he could not buy a new model and its accessories easily in his city and secondly, nobody was ready to buy his traditional SLR kit to help him upgrade. It took him almost a year to get rid of his old camera and buy the equipment necessary to shift fully to a DSLR.
This was about seven years back. Fast forward to today – he has just changed his loyalties and has moved to a Canon DSLR kit. Try speaking to a photographer and you would know how difficult it is to change camps from Nikon to Canon and vice-versa. None of the accessories like lenses and flash are compatible. How long did it take for him to shift? Less than 15 days.
This included selling off his old camera and its lenses, researching for a new Canon camera and buying all the accessories. All of this was done online. He sold his old camera on OLX (an Indian auction site), researched using various forums that he was part of and bought all the new equipment from various online portals like Ebay, Flipkart, HomeShop 18 and others.
To summarize, while the new order has increased the choices for consumers in metros; the real impact is more countrywide for people in tier 2/3 cities. They can not only research products online they can use that research and actually convert that into a purchase of a product from virtually any part of the world. Finally, they are able to complete that purchase cycle. Something, that could not even be imagined less than five years ago.
Authored by Geetaj Channana, Senior Consultant and National Digital Lead at Text100 India