In the ‘print’ media, auto magazines like Overdrive, Business Standard Motoring, Autocar, etc cater to the motoring enthusiast of the country and all of these are very successful print magazines. For years, these magazines have been the sole medium for the auto enthusiasts to keep in touch with the passion they are mad about — automobiles.
Similarly, in the ‘television’ space, literally every channel worth it’s name is having it’s own ‘auto’ show — at times with tie-ups with the ‘print’ magazines. These ‘auto’ shows on television have their ‘experts’ who are very knowledgeable and respected in the motoring world and very often these ‘experts’ are also the experts/editors of the print magazines. These experts often do the following:
- Answer queries on issues/problems that viewers face with their vehicles
- Recommend which vehicle to buy to their viewers depending on their needs
- Analyze the auto industry for happenings and trends
- And other things – like international motoring scene, product launches, motor sports etc.
In the ‘internet’ space, as far as ‘automotive business websites/portals’ go, there seems to be a vacuum w.r.t websites/portals that can be termed as successful and having a broad user base (with the exception of carwale.com – a late entrant). Many of the internet websites/portals aimed at the automotive segment were even backed by big names of the tv/print media – autocarindia.com from the Autocar stable, bsmootoring.com from Business Standard, Indiacar.com, cybersteering.com, overdrive.in from the Overdrive magazine.
One can safely assume that auto experts were involved with these websites and they would have shared all their experience. Why were these internet websites not able to catch the users attention in India and become successful? All these websites seem to have the ‘obvious’ and ‘seemingly right’ set of features available to make them successful. Most of the websites offer the following:
- News from the auto industry & editorial articles
- Compare vehicles
- Buy & sell vehicles
- Road Tests
- Ask the experts
- Prices of vehicles
It seems that most of the print magazines don’t know how they can leverage the internet and create communities of auto enthusiasts. At most, these print magazines view their internet websites as the place to advertize about their print magazine and few other add-ons. These magazines are not taking a strategic view of how ‘building communities’ can increase the sales/subscription of their print magazines. It can offer a whole new paradigm of distribution channels, business models and extremely great competitive advantage.
In a subsequent post, I will talk about a auto website/portal that is successfully ‘building communities’ and is perfectly poised to leverage the user community into a great competitive advantage.