US car makers lose out in brand loyalty
American car manufacturers are facing declining levels of customer loyalty for their products compared to foreign competition.
A new survey from LeaseTrader.com found that, with the exception of Ford, shows that loyalty is on the decline for almost all models, likely to be caused by the recession and customers holding out for the best deals.
The website, which matches people wanting to transfer car leases to customers wishing to finish them off, surveyed 150 customers of each brand to find out which brand had the highest level of loyalty.
According to leading reports that study newly purchased vehicles, the industry average for customer retention is roughly 48%. LeaseTrader.com found this average closer to 22%.
Illustrating favorable emotional attachment, brand retention for many high-end imports remains high and most domestic brands place towards the middle and low end, with a few notable exceptions. According to LeaseTrader.com, the brand retention leaders are Mercedes (53.2%), Honda (51.7%) and BMW (50.6%), with the bottom three being US brands Saturn (9.2%), Mercury (8.4%) and Pontiac (7.9%). Other US brands were Ford (34.8%), Cadillac (32.7%) and Buick (28.2%), all three featuring in the top 10.
“Years ago you had generations of families that would stick with one brand for decades,” said Sergio Stiberman, CEO and founder of LeaseTrader.com. “Brand attachment has changed over the years and today people are mostly driven by incentives dealers provide at the time of trade-in. LeaseTrader.com customers search for their next car based more so on brand attributes since they’re not shopping at the time of vehicle trade-in.”
Other brands with low loyalty scores were Volvo, Hummer, Porsche, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Saab.
Mercedes’ strong performance reflects the perception that the company puts quality before all other factors.