On the luxury side, rankings largely remained the same as last year's, with Lexus topping the list at 48 percent and Mercedes-Benz and BMW following at 47.8 percent and 45.1 percent.
Jominy, in an interview with Automotive News, said Subaru’s carefully constructed lifestyle and marketing image maintains its strong customer base.
“When you get a Subaru, you feel like you’re part of something, perhaps something a little bit higher,” he said. “And this year, and certainly the addition of the new three-row Ascent … helped Subaru hang on to the No. 1 rating as existing owners have one more place that they could go if their lifestyle needs change.”
Loyalty overall is up by a point in the study, which is “in the range of about 140,000 consumers that are no longer looking to trade out of their brand,” Jominy said. He also credited home vehicle deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic to this increased loyalty.
“There’s a social contract of sorts that if you get to the point where you have a dealer drive a vehicle to your house, you’re probably going to be fairly ready to buy that vehicle,” he said.
Both Lexus and Mercedes-Benz as well as Subaru and Toyota had a 0.2 percent difference between them in the study results. Jominy said that while it’s unclear whether Mercedes-Benz or Toyota will end up taking the top spots next year, he expects a “tight race.”
He also said that most consumers who do defect from Lexus switch to Toyota. While this isn’t counted as loyalty in the study, it bodes well for Toyota that consumers tend to retain loyalty to the parent company, he said.
Jominy said that Lexus was able to retain its results due to its high-quality products, particularly its best-selling RX model. He added that the vehicle has “one of the highest model loyalties out there.” He also cited the “carefree” ownership experience of owning a Lexus vehicle as a reason the automaker topped the list for a second year.
'Very shocking' changes
There were some results that were “very shocking” in both the mass-market and luxury brand lists, he said. Volkswagen shot up in customer loyalty by 3.5 points to 41.6 percent due to a diverse product portfolio that allows customers to stay within the brand even as their needs change, he said.
He also said that Volvo is the top mover in the auto industry, moving up from 11th place in the luxury field with a 33 percent retention rate to 8th place with 38 percent.
“It’s not surprising when you see how excellent Volvo products are these days, that Volvo is moving up the premium list very quickly,” he said. “The interiors are fantastic, the designs are dare I say sexy, and so Volvo made a tremendous drive forward.”
Despite this, VW and Volvo still have work to do, Jominy said: “Both of them have a long way to go to crack the podium but are moving very quickly in a positive direction.”
Results are based on transaction data from June 2019 through May 2020. The study includes all model years that were traded in. Customer loyalty is based on the percentage of vehicle owners who choose the same brand when trading in or purchasing a new vehicle.