Sulekha.com, India’s largest online classifieds and yellow pages portal,has released its list of the top consumer trends for the year 2008. The list is based on the results from over 80 million visitors across the year. The results are based on the local business searches on Sulekha’s site and consumer enquires for a particular business. When compared to other Local commerce sites, Sulekha.com stood clearly topmost in its category. Its broad based service offerings made it the premier destination for online users of yellow pages. Hence, the trends from visitors to the portal can be clearly treated as representative of the industry.
The year 2008 will be looked at as the year where social media leapfrogged and took center stage as a catalyst for attracting and molding mindsets. Cyberspace was acknowledged as a not just a marketer’s favorite playfield but also a consumer’s preferred haunt to obtain unhindered and credible information. Sulekha.com’s consumer trends for 2008 comprised Education, Hospitality, Technology and Healthcare. This was a clear shift towards more need-based searches and less on leisure and entertainment. The survey brings to the fore, clear trends which signify consumer preferences in their urban, fast-paced life.
The search trends for schools were a clear indication of the heightened awareness on Education among Indians. The highest number of searches was for CBSE schools followed by State Board and ICSE schools, albeit with much smaller numbers. Playschools got a relatively high number of hits across metros.
Computer training was very much in the forefront in the area of coaching and training, followed by tuitions. Job training related searches showed a scorching growth rate of over 500%.
The surprising trend seen was that though the South is considered as the bastion of Educational pursuits, Delhi was the front runner for netizens looking for educational options.
People were clearly in a mood to holiday as could be seen from the fact that the search for tour operators took the top spot followed by air travel agents. This was even with the slow down witnessed towards the latter half of the year. Another reason for the popularity of this segment was one of Sulekha.com’s initiatives: The Hotel Finder. Sulekha.com launched this unique feature, which provided access to hotels in over 290 locations across the cities where it has a footprint. This comprehensive search facility even listed heritage hotels, for those interested in history. The proactiveness on the part of Sulekha.com paid off in spades as the hotel finder’s success drove up volumes, whilst continuing to remain on top of the charts.
The survey shows that while traditional media such as newspapers and magazines remain the primary source for travel advertising and information for many, the internet has clearly evolved as a popular platform – drawing greater attention among Indian travelers.
This was a new entrant to the top 10 this year. India continued its march towards having a computer in every household with computer sales having a stranglehold in this category. Not surprisingly, computer software was at the bottom of the list.
In keeping with the unabated popularity of mobile phones in today’s times, mobiles have shown a rise by 4 places over last year (9th place in 2007). This category was the fastest mover over the previous year. New service providers, new players and a slew of low cost mobiles coupled with lifetime packages, contributed to this trend.
Doctors held the fourth spot for the second year running. The search for alternative medicine specialists continued to have a strong presence; the search for general physicians however was lower than the previous year. The search for veterinarians showed a marked increase over the previous year, a possible indication that more Indians were moving towards keeping pets and treating them with qualified doctors.
As for hospitals, the numbers show a marked shift from general hospitals towards more specialty based hospitals, though the number of absolute hits declined by almost 50 %.
Fitness and beauty/ personal care have become personal mantras for a growing number of people with the consumer trends clearly showcasing a huge demand for local fitness gymnasiums and beauty related services.
The notable new entrant apart from mobile phones was Real Estate. The majority of the year saw the cost of real estate shooting through the sky and the market getting pegged as the hottest space to be in. From eased govt. regulations to billionaire property developers driving this cash rich sector, realty was at an all time high. The online space was in alignment with the market shift. It not only was a new entrant into the top 10 consumer trends, but also highlighted increased globalization and market liberalization. Cybercitizens thronged the online space to get better informed on what this space had to offer.