Ford maintains lead in brand loyalty, Polk says
Dealers play key role
Ford defended its top position in automotive brand loyalty for the first quarter of 2013, according to an analysis by Polk, a suburban Detroit research firm.
Polk reports that, on average, 52 percent of new-vehicle owners were repeat brand customers in the first quarter, up 2 percentage points from the first quarter of 2012. Ford brand held its top position, with 65 percent of customers returning to buy a new vehicle. Toyota (59 percent) and Honda (57 percent) brands followed.
Thirteen brands’ loyalty increased at higher rates than the industry average of 3 percentage points, with Porsche increasing the most -- by 10 percentage points -- followed by Cadillac and Mazda.
Notably, all General Motors marques made the list of brands with the highest increases, with Cadillac showing the largest improvement, 9 percentage points. Chevrolet had the most loyal customers of the four brands, putting it among the top five brands at 56 percent.
Lonnie Miller, vice president of Polk’s loyalty management practice, said brands such as Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford are excelling because they have a wide range of models from which customers can choose. Especially among lessees, customers who may no longer be interested in their current model will stay with a brand if they have a wider variety of vehicles to choose from, Miller said.
“Product rules when it comes to driving immediate short-term transaction loyalty,” Miller said.
Miller also pointed to affordability, availability and reward programs as reasons why customers come back. He said that even if a brand runs into problems, loyalty can increase if the situation is handled properly.
“If you overcome a failure, typically what happens is that that kind of relationship is even strengthened between you and the customer, because you overcame a bad experience and hopefully they’ve got the trust that you’ve got their back,” Miller said.
Dealers play a big part in building customer loyalty, Miller said. Not only do salespeople have to provide good customer service, but F&I managers -- who work with the customers at the end of the deal -- must be quick and efficient, he said.
“The dealership plays such a huge role because they’re not only presenting the product, presenting how they’ll treat the customer when they drive away, but they’re also presenting it from a competitive standpoint as well,” Miller said.
Polk’s data are based on new-vehicle registrations from all U.S. states and Washington, D.C. The firm released statistics only for brands that exceeded industry growth.
Ford continues brand loyalty leadership; Porsche most improved over Q1 2012
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (June 5, 2013) – Recent analysis of repeat buying behavior from Polk during the first quarter of 2013 finds average new vehicle brand loyalty rates increasing to 51.5 percent, up more than 2 percentage points over the same time period last year.
Thirteen brands experienced a larger jump in owner loyalty than the industry average compared to the first quarter 2012, with Porsche, Cadillac and Mazda representing the three largest quarter-to-quarter improvements, according to Polk.
Among brands with at least 1,000 former new vehicle buyers returning to the U.S. market in the first quarter, Porsche owner loyalty improved 9.5 percentage points. Cadillac continued its owner loyalty improvement over 2012 with an uptick of 8.3 percentage points over the same period last year, while Mazda was third most improved for the quarter, as the brand improved its owner loyalty 7.8 percentage points during the first quarter of 2013.
“In each case, strong-selling models fuel the loyalty to these brands. We saw a majority of the contribution for brand loyalty coming from Cayenne owners for Porsche, CTS owners for Cadillac and Mazda3 owners for Mazda,” noted Lonnie Miller, vice president of Polk’s Loyalty Management practice. “There’s something to be said for paying positive attention to the majority of your customer base while treating buyers professionally and continuing to meet or exceed their vehicle needs.”
Overall, Ford continues to lead the industry, with a brand loyalty rate of 65.1 percent among new vehicle owners who returned to market during the first quarter 2013, proving that its impressive lineup is making a significant impact among automotive shoppers who are returning to market. Toyota brand loyalty was more than 6 percentage points behind Ford for the timeframe, with a 58.5 percent loyalty rate. Honda (57 percent), Chevrolet (56.2 percent), and Mercedes and Nissan (each at 55.9 percent) round out the top six brands for the quarter’s loyalty analysis.
On a monthly cycle, Polk’s loyalty analysis is based on actual new vehicle registration information gleaned from all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. The fact-based analysis helps OEMs, dealers, marketers and ad agencies improve owner retention strategies, business planning and conquesting activities in the automotive marketplace. Buyer behavior is not based on surveys or other self-reported data.
It serves as a unique metric for OEMs, as they seek to understand their market position and identify new vehicle sales opportunities.
“Automakers take customer loyalty seriously. Polk continues to work with them on both measurement and improvement plans in order to help dealer and corporate personnel understand what share of their total sales should come from repeat buyers versus newly acquired customers,” said Miller.
The first quarter 2013 analysis evaluated brands against their performance during the first quarter in 2012. Loyalty rates among top ten brands with at least 1,000 new vehicle-owning customers returning to the showroom during the quarter ranged from 52.2 percent to 65.1 percent.
About Polk’s Loyalty Management Practice
Polk’s Loyalty Management Practice enables manufacturers and retailers to effectively set benchmarks and manage owner loyalty through an in-depth analysis of automotive shopping behaviors and related market influencers. Analyses cover the entire U.S. market, and can help automakers and dealers identify likely defectors before they leave, providing an opportunity to re-win a customer’s business. Polk’s Loyalty Management Practice provides services via in-person consultation, reporting and access to loyalty data through web-based query systems.
Polk is the premier provider of automotive information and marketing solutions. The organization collects and interprets global data, and provides extensive automotive business expertise to help customers understand their market position, identify trends, build brand loyalty, conquest new business and gain a competitive advantage. Polk helps automotive manufacturers and dealers, automotive aftermarket companies, finance and insurance companies, advertising agencies, media companies, consulting organizations, government agencies and market research firms make good business decisions. A privately held global firm, Polk is based in Southfield, Michigan with operations in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. For more information, please visit www.polk.com.
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