Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ford, Honda top customer loyalty survey

Scott Burgess / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. have the most loyal customers, according to a new study released today by J.D. Power and Associates.

Nearly two-thirds of Ford and Honda owners, 62 percent, return to their brand for their next vehicle. For Ford, the key vehicles are the Edge crossover, the F-Series pickups and the midsize Fusion sedan. Honda customers come back for the Accord sedan, CR-V crossover and the seven-passenger Pilot.

Hyundai, Lexus and Toyota customers return to their respective brands at the rate of 60 percent. Kia, which had a 58 percent retention rate, improved the most in the study, gaining 21 percentage points over 2009 numbers, the study said.

Additionally, the study noted that more drivers want vehicles that are fun to drive and that has played a role for carmakers to get a customer to switch from one brand to another, known in the industry as a conquest customer.

"Now that economic and market conditions have improved somewhat, vehicle owners are increasingly citing emotional, rather than practical, reasons for staying with their vehicle brand or switching to a different one," said Raffi Festekjian, director of automotive product research at J.D. Power and Associates, in a news release. "In light of this, developing new models with attractive styling and that are perceived as fun to drive is increasingly critical for automakers in order to retain and conquest customers as the market continues to recover."

The study also states that domestic carmakers have done a better job at attracting traditional import buyers. In 2010, 14 percent of buyers of domestic brands had previously owned an import, which was up from 10 percent in 2008.

However, the overall loyalty rates remains fairly consistent, the study noted. In 2009, 69 percent of owners who traded in a domestic brand vehicle bought another domestic brand vehicle compared with 68 percent in 2008. Import buyers, however, are much more loyal to import brands, with 90 percent of import buyers traded in an import brand for another import brand in 2010, which is the same number as 2008.


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