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Old 29th January 2011, 12:34   #1
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Default Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

www.vizisense.com reports on what we've known all along; an honest, straight-forward ownership review is infinitely more trustworthy, and representative of the car, than "expert" reviews.

A study of over 5000+ Indian online users reveals this (amongst other things):

Quote:
First-hand ownership experience related to a new car purchase, dealership and service experience etc., which would be equivalent to word-of-mouth in the offline world, is seen as a huge social influencer for potential online car buyers and is also preferred to ‘expert’ car reviews
Who knows a car better than one who lives with it? Who can report on a car better than he, whose bills are NOT paid by automotive advertisements? Where do you find the best database of ownership reports on Indian cars .

I trust a knowledgeable enthusiast and / or car owner more than any journalist. Thanks to all those of you who have contributed with ownership threads on your cars, especially the ones that are frequently updated with service, maintenance and repair information.
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Old 29th January 2011, 13:07   #2
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Talking Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India



i know where the best ownership reports are found (now that you are reading this, congrats - you do too)

besides so called 'expert's' opinion do not really matter anymore now (ever since you have been here you know why too)

unless they want their expert comments to be as thus

long live team-bhp
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Old 29th January 2011, 13:15   #3
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Reviews are basically single day test drive report so it is impossible for the reviewer to do justice.
Ownership reports are the true reviews as the user experience the cars ups and downs days after days and can't get it wrong.
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Old 29th January 2011, 13:34   #4
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Ownership reports are based on day to day experiences with the car whereas expert reviews are basically based on few hours of drive.

I always prefer ownership reports instead of expert reviews.
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Old 29th January 2011, 13:44   #5
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by San Phrangmung View Post
Reviews are basically single day test drive report so it is impossible for the reviewer to do justice.
Ownership reports are the true reviews as the user experience the cars ups and downs days after days and can't get it wrong.
Not just that, but like GTO said, they are not unbiased or paid for, hence can call a spade a spade without any qualms. I have tremendous respect for Team-BHPians who invest significant amount of money in a vehicle purchase, and then many a times give honest and unbiased feedback and criticism of the long term experience with their vehicle(s).
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Old 29th January 2011, 13:47   #6
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Smile Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
an honest, straight-forward ownership review is infinitely more trustworthy, and representative of the car, than "expert" reviews.
Very Debatable.

1. A review by an honest expert is expected to be more unbiased, detailed, relevant and hence more useful. We have not yet spoken about rich experience of testing so many other vehicle yet.

2. Many a time I have seen users biased towards there purchase and promoting their own vehicle unabashedly, while knowing next to nil about what is on offer in other vehicles. That is typical of herd mentality.

3. What majority thinks (opinion polls, etc.) need not be necessarily 'right' or 'trustworthy'. However what majority of 'experts' thinks usually is.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Who knows a car better than one who lives with it? Who can report on a car better than he, whose bills are NOT paid by automotive advertisements?
Honesty is a lfestyle. An honest person would do justice to whatever job he/she is given. That is why certain reviewers are more trustworthy than others. So it is easy to assess a few expert reviwers rather than endless user reviewers. Personally I have found expert reviews here and in Overdrive Magazine very believable and trustworthy.

What I have observed:
A prospective experienced buyer usually go through expert reviews first, and then validates certain pertinent information by browsing through ownership reports. That helps in eradicating any doubts he might not have found answers in 'brief' expert reviews.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thanks to all those of you who have contributed with ownership threads on your cars, especially the ones that are frequently updated with service, maintenance and repair information.
+1. Yes. It requires time and effort to take photos, keep a log consciously and write down all and answer queries.

Last edited by ajay0612 : 29th January 2011 at 13:50.
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Old 29th January 2011, 13:54   #7
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

ahh... Finally we get a reason to why tbhp is getting so popular. .

Jokes apart, the unbiased attitude, excellent moderation which ensures quality content, coupled with some excellent ownership reports make sure people prefer the forum over some auto magazine while making important buying decisions.
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Old 29th January 2011, 14:24   #8
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

I consult both. I find that the expert reviews generally appreciate the smaller details a bit more, and are generally more enthusiastic about the technical brilliance. For example, you'd hardly find a mention of a VGT or hydraulic lash adjusters in a typical ownership review. But then again, the expert reviews, even the long term ones, sometimes leave out stuff like service experiences. A staff from Autocar India or Overdrive mag would hardly ever have to deal with staff trying to cheat them. They receive exceptional service and are thus less reliable when it comes to such things.

Typical owners are usually more forgiving of their car's faults, (I am) because they don't want to admit that they made a less than perfect choice. On the other hand, an owner will scream bloody murder if they have to shell out cold hard cash for maintenance and repair. For example, my car has not cost me any serious money out of my pocket so far, and thus I am happy with it. But I think I'll be a lot less forgiving if I had paid more money buying it, or had to spend a lot on maintaining it. Comparisons are a lot easier if you haven't committed to anything.

But I find that most of the faults that expert reviewers harp on, like bad plastics, are things that the average owner wouldn't really care as much about. From reading an expert review, you'd be under the impression that the Volkswagens/Skodas are the only cars in India with plastics that you can actually touch without recoiling in disgust. You'd think that no car with an engine smaller than 1.6L could be fun to drive. You'd think that the Swift and Ritz are the only cars in the 1.2L segment that aren't slow, sluggish and unrefined.

It might be a side-effect of driving for performance tests, and not really having to worry about fuel efficiency, but personally, I feel that expert reviewers forget that most owners never take their cars to the redline, or cross 90kph. Thus, for most of them it wouldn't matter that the engine is rough after 4000rpm, or that it takes its sweet time to get from 80 to 120 in 5th, as long as you don't need to change gears too often in traffic, can inch along at 40kph in 5th gear and overtake with the AC on. I'm not discounting performance altogether, oh no, I'm just saying, be realistic. Saying that a particular car is not for the enthusiast is a lot better than calling it underpowered.

If plastic quality was such a big factor in the buying decision for most Indians, the Alto would not be the biggest selling car. A typical car buyer's priorities would be fuel efficiency, reliability, comfort, low service costs, brand value and good looks. While an expert review would take these facts into account, they would not be as important to the reviewer as it would be for an owner. An actual Palio 1.6 owner would be a lot more distressed by 8kpl than a reviewer would, and would enjoy the car a lot less. Case point being Swift petrols being driven sedately in the highest gear, while Altos (sometimes) and Swift diesels tear through traffic.

Recently, there was a comparison between the Skoda Laura diesel and the Chevy Cruze in one of India's leading magazines. They rated the Laura higher on everything except maybe design, and declared it the overall winner. They rated the Laura's interiors higher, because the plastic quality was soooo good, even though the Cruze has the freshest looking interiors on any car in that segment. I've sat in both cars, and I have to say, I found the Cruze more appealing. It felt good to sit in a space-age looking cockpit, surrounded by contemporary piano-finish surfaces, blue backlit switches and so on. I admit that I haven't driven it yet, but reliable sources say that the Cruze's common rail motor is a real firecracker compared to the pump-duse motor in the Laura. Not to mention, Skoda's un-stellar reputation on service, vs Chevrolet's excellent one. Clearly, factors like a lower price, higher FE, fresher design and better service did not matter enough to said magazine's staff as much as it would to the typical owner.

A prime exception to the 'scathing reviews' rule would be the Malayalam auto mags, which are generally highly appreciative of every aspect of every vehicle they review. There is never any strong criticism, only suggestions that 'this would have been better had it been done like that'. It's almost laughable how the tone of the article changes from start to end. For example, I was reading the review of the Apache RTR160 Hyper Edge. Now, this is NOT a comprehensive makeover of the bike, and largely a sticker and paint job, with some small tweaks. The review starts out by addressing the bike by name, but by the time the reviewer begines commenting on the bikes performance and handling, he has begun to shower affection on this bike, calliing it 'him' and 'he'. It borders on the ridiculous. This is the other end of the spectrum. I strongly suspect that these mags have to beg manufacturers for a car to review.

Everything that I have posted is just my opinion, and is a product of my experience and worldview. Please don't take offense. Feel free to criticize.

Last edited by vivekgk : 29th January 2011 at 14:37.
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Old 30th January 2011, 20:19   #9
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

I basically see auto industry-sponsored magazines & websites as being in a "conflict of interest" situation. You say you are serving the interest of your readers, but it's the auto industry paying your bills. If you had to choose between pleasing one of them, who would you? Subscription income & newstand sales are a miniscule part of their revenue model, compared to automotive industry sponsorships.

A recent int'l study concluded that, of all the product segments (including gadgets), car reviews have the potential of being the most influenced by advertising revenue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajay0612 View Post
We have not yet spoken about rich experience of testing so many other vehicle yet.
True. But on an enthusiast-driven community, the general awareness levels of all things automotive are higher than the lay man on the street. And we do have more experts (those with far more technical understanding) than traditional publications.

Quote:
Many a time I have seen users biased towards there purchase and promoting their own vehicle unabashedly, while knowing next to nil about what is on offer in other vehicles. That is typical of herd mentality.
So true. However, note that:

- You'll generally find 20 - 30 reviews (at the very minimum) of most <Rs. 10 lakh cars on a large community such as this. So, 1 out of those 30 reviews could be undeniably favourable to the car, but the other 29 wont. To illustrate that point, it is Team-BHP that brought forward the following facts to the Indian car scene (Just a small sample, there are several more):

Audi's poor dealership standards. Ditto for Skoda
The Swift's weak clutch and compromised quality in many areas
Merc's horrid reliability
Mitsubishi's dreadful resale values
VW's inconsistent reliability with the Polo
The pathetic turbo-lag of the Cruze
Long wait periods for parts for the Fiats. And their frequent niggles

- Also note that, from 2010 onward, if we find any review that is biased, it is deleted on the spot.

Quote:
However what majority of 'experts' thinks usually is.
Hardly. All of the "experts" thought the Fabia is the best hatchback on sale. And some even reported that it's a sales success (when it clearly wasn't). Somehow, that did nothing for the car.

Quote:
Personally I have found expert reviews here and in Overdrive Magazine very believable and trustworthy.
Thanks.

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Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
Typical owners are usually more forgiving of their car's faults, (I am) because they don't want to admit that they made a less than perfect choice.
9 out of 10 reviews you see on Team-BHP will highlit the pros as well as cons.

Quote:
But I find that most of the faults that expert reviewers harp on, like bad plastics, are things that the average owner wouldn't really care as much about.
So true. I don't understand the big deal about plastics. Example : The Etios. Though they are entry grade, it was hardly a big disadvantage in my eyes, after considering the price of the car and the overall package it offered.

Quote:
A prime exception to the 'scathing reviews' rule would be the Malayalam auto mags, which are generally highly appreciative of every aspect of every vehicle they review. There is never any strong criticism, only suggestions that 'this would have been better had it been done like that'. It's almost laughable how the tone of the article changes from start to end. For example, I was reading the review of the Apache RTR160 Hyper Edge. Now, this is NOT a comprehensive makeover of the bike, and largely a sticker and paint job, with some small tweaks. The review starts out by addressing the bike by name, but by the time the reviewer begines commenting on the bikes performance and handling, he has begun to shower affection on this bike, calliing it 'him' and 'he'. It borders on the ridiculous. This is the other end of the spectrum. I strongly suspect that these mags have to beg manufacturers for a car to review.
Say, you criticize a freshly launched car? Can your marketing call the same manufacturer a week later for a full page ad?

Quote:
Everything that I have posted is just my opinion, and is a product of my experience and worldview. Please don't take offense. Feel free to criticize.
No one will take offence at such a brilliant post. Different perspectives bring tremendous value to a discussion
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Old 30th January 2011, 22:08   #10
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

For any person, buying an automobile is a big thing. Whether it is a first car or a fourth car or a entry hatch or a premium luxury coupe, every one will have some dream, passion, preferences, constraints, etc. So once decided to buy one, certainly that person will try to know (& test drive) about options available.

A common man will look for "features" that are available for the money that he is going to spend and the outlook and appeal of each car. As the engine capacities will be similar in every segments, the look & feel, fuel economy and the list of features will be competing to decide on a car for a common man.

When there is a confusion to choose from a final two/three, the owner's experience, friend's suggestion and expert's reviews are going to come for help in the given order. No buyer is going to read the expert reviews of all cars thoroughly to decide. Even an expert's review says a bad thing about a stuff, if the owner says it is not that big problem for day to day use, then expert's review is simply ignored.

Expert reviews focuses on the built & performance of the machine but the buyers will focus on others, assuming all machines are going to perform well, thats why it has brought to sale. And several times, many of the parameters that are being reviewed doesn't make sense for most of the public. For example, 0 to 60 Kms in 9 seconds, but what is the use of it in a real life? As long as it has a good pickup, it should be fine for all. Similarly, while looking at various cars, people will know what quality of plastics they will be getting for the price they are paying. So unless it is terribly bad, it is not going to influence the decision. In the same line, the torque, power (bhp), rpm, max speed, DOHC, TDCi, CRDi, vtec, etc are not going to mean much for a practical car buyer. They will be useful only for a small set of auto enthusiasists.
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Old 30th January 2011, 22:22   #11
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

The advantage of a huge forum like Team-bhp is that the individual biases get evened out with multiple reviews. But in case of magazine reviews apart from individual bias we have to contend with commercial constraint also

The points made by Ajay0612 regarding the 'expertise' of the expert reviewers from magazines is valid, provided there is real expertise. I remember the Endeavor automatic review by Samurai, where he mentioned that he was the only one with off-road experience among the testers that day. So much for the expert reviews

Last edited by mallumowgli : 30th January 2011 at 22:30.
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Old 30th January 2011, 22:29   #12
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Owners pay, experts get paid!

Other factors would be, the buying experience, the long term driving/owning experience, the service experience ( Now this is something everyone should look at!).

Now, this is one of the reasons there are so many car nuts ( members or not) out here looking out for information.

We all love the owner experts.
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Old 30th January 2011, 22:40   #13
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

I don't agree totally that ownership reports trump expert reviews in the buying decision. In fact what works for me (and presumably others) is a sensible combination of the two. There is a LOT I have learned from expert test drive reports whether on TBHP or in auto magazines, even occasionally on auto shows on TV. But the primary difference is that an expert's standards are usually not in tune with a layperson's. For this I value the opinion of a "people like us" type, which is where the ownership report comes in.
Having said that, there are times when I wonder whether the so-called experts (especially on TV) have an actual clue what they're talking about! And you have to question whether a A vs B shootout can really be totally unbiased when you notice in the break that B is sponsoring the show (or has full age adverts in the mag, or a banner ad on the homepage- you get the drift)! Experts typically tend to be black & white in their opinions, usually ending up showering a new launch with affection or epithets, and it becomes confusing especially when, as it occasionally happens, there are mutually contradictory reviews of the same product in two different meda vehicles!
At the same time, ownership reviews are subjective, occasionally ill-informed and certainly lacking in appreciation of finer technical nuances and industry knowledge (though, looking at some of the ownership reviews on TBHP, the line is blurring fast!)
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Old 30th January 2011, 23:54   #14
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Hi Ajay0612,

I would like differ with you, mainly on the part of experts provide honest review (although I may be repeating very well crafted answer of GTO, but still put forth my point). Most of the time I found all these reviews completely biased. I will provide you 2 examples.
1. The experts always very critical of i20 and never missed any chance to criticize i20, same expert recommended to one of the viewer for same car and timing was refreshed i20 was launched and we can see new i20 advertisements were going on the same channel.
2. When Yeti was launched, the presenter asked expert on SUV for herself (in Q&A session), and that time also we have seen Yeti's advertisement was going on the same channel. Atleast to me this incident appeared as advertisement.
I am sorry but I am referring the same group, which you said you found honest, I have always observed them completely biased.

No offence meant to you, it is just my point of view and my observations.

Anuj
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Old 30th January 2011, 23:56   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I basically see auto industry-sponsored magazines & websites as being in a "conflict of interest" situation. You say you are serving the interest of your readers, but it's the auto industry paying your bills. If you had to choose between pleasing one of them, who would you? Subscription income & newstand sales are a miniscule part of their revenue model, compared to automotive industry sponsorships.
And which magazine an advertiser prefers? One with the highest readership (easy to figure out). Magazines which have trustworthy image get the highest readership (primary target of publisher is that - readership). An auto magazine full of biased reviews is likely to be at the bottom of heap and not at the top.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
A recent int'l study concluded that, of all the product segments (including gadgets), car reviews have the potential of being the most influenced by advertising revenue.
The review writers in good magazines are usually careful with 'choice of words'. They manage to get their point across without offending the manufacturers. An experience with their reviews and occasional real world experience is all one needs to develop an understanding.
And when a person spends a larger part of his time and money in buying a car, is he expected to speak negatively (read rationally) about his decision? Oh yes. Unless he has been ill treated by dealer or has been denied of a few freebies.
IMO Ownership reviews' benefit is realized after one has narrowed down on a car or has already bought one. It is a platform to mutually share experience and get help on some issues on which the other ones in group can respond.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
But on an enthusiast-driven community, the general awareness levels of all things automotive are higher than the lay man on the street. And we do have more experts (those with far more technical understanding) than traditional publications.
Oh. Really? That may be true for this site (I don't really know). In general I have seen people buying a car without knowing the USPs of their own model. Many a times it boils down to which dealership is nearest to their home or which car their better half likes!
If a study is undertaken than I bet you will find above true in more than 90% of cases.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
- You'll generally find 20 - 30 reviews (at the very minimum) of most <Rs. 10 lakh cars on a large community such as this. So, 1 out of those 30 reviews could be undeniably favourable to the car, but the other 29 wont.
The reviews usually start with the justification of their choice and aftermath is carefully worked out to not sound like he/she made a terrible mistake (1 in 30 might still mange to do that.). Still I feel that some of ownership reviews are honestly written but they are far and few. These are important and serve the purpose, not of selection but after the selection of the product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Hardly. All of the "experts" thought the Fabia is the best hatchback on sale. And some even reported that it's a sales success (when it clearly wasn't). Somehow, that did nothing for the car.
It still is but maybe pricing was its undoing. And now it might be too late.
On the other hand I find many i20 reviews full of complaints about steering rattles and ineffective ACs (no other model of car has got so much -ve feedback on such important issues) but still this top of line hatch is outselling others by a wide margin consistently!

Success of a product does not merely depend on the merits of it. In fact in countries like ours (full of emotional/gullible people), it depends mostly on marketing. That is why still an honest person usually is not able to win elections.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Say, you criticize a freshly launched car? Can your marketing call the same manufacturer a week later for a full page ad?
In such competitive times there is hardly any such product (requiring extreme criticism) launched by 'who matter as advertisers'. Still I have seen newly launched Etios & also i20 expert reviews mentioning that the steering is lifeless, -ve comments on Punto's fit & finish, -ve comments on Xylo's gearshift knob, shift quality, steering over assistance, etc. Usually the criticism is softened by the selection of words but not by elimination of the issue. Then there are long term tests feedbacks too.
Other (like Premier, etc.) get the treatment they deserve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anuj_Mumbai View Post
1. The experts always very critical of i20 and never missed any chance to criticize i20, same expert recommended to one of the viewer for same car and timing was refreshed i20 was launched and we can see new i20 advertisements were going on the same channel.
Really? I have yet to find a -ve expert review about i20 in auto mags. (Are you referring to some news channel?) On the other hand it is easy to spot many user reviews full of -ve comments about i20's AC & Steering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anuj_Mumbai View Post
2. When Yeti was launched, the presenter asked expert on SUV for herself (in Q&A session), and that time also we have seen Yeti's advertisement was going on the same channel. Atleast to me this incident appeared as advertisement.
Why not? If the program is automobile related, has good viewer-ship, then won't you be interested as an advertiser of a new product? Why should we try to seem honest (by criticizing a good product) rather than be honest?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anuj_Mumbai View Post
I am sorry but I am referring the same group, which you said you found honest, I have always observed them completely biased.
Oh. No surprise. We usually believe the blah if it is anything -ve. +ve news is taken with lot of skepticism. That is the reason why we see the type of news under 'Breaking News".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anuj_Mumbai View Post
No offence meant to you, it is just my point of view and my observations.
None. It (offence) does not matter either. A different perspective is always enriching.

Last edited by GTO : 31st January 2011 at 09:13. Reason: Merging. Please use the EDIT or Multi-Quote function instead of back to back posts.
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