Customer Loyalty

Are Brands Important?

In “Twilight of the Brands” in the February 17/24 issue of “The New Yorker,” James Surowiecki  discusses the challenges facing brands in today’s information-rich U.S. economy. Surowiecki focuses on Lululemon Athletica, a yoga apparel company that quickly became the darling of the industry and then tumbled almost overnight because of negative customer feedback. Such instantaneous customer reaction can propel a company to new heights or spell its doom in the blink of an eye, according to...Read...
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Who is Buying the Tesla Model S?

Given all the attention recently focused on Tesla, I thought it would be interesting to see who is buying the Model S. Specifically, what are customers trading in for the Model S, or what other vehicles do Model S buyers have in their garage if they are adding to their fleet? The Model S conquest data, derived from Polk new vehicle registration data, are fascinating. There are two ways of looking at the data. First, the pure conquest data show that the Model S is conquesting owners of... Read...
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The Best-of-the-Best: Automotive Loyalty Award Winners Named

It was my pleasure to be a co-presenter last night, along with Edouard Tavernier, as 33 winners were recognized for automotive loyalty and conquest during the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards presented by IHS. For those of you unfamiliar with how owner loyalty is measured, it’s determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to market and purchases or leases another new vehicle of the same model or make.   This year's Polk Loyalty Awards recognized the best-of-the-best and winners...
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Five Car Brands that Excelled in 2013 and Why

U.S. car dealers delivered 15,600,199 new cars and light trucks in 2013, up 8% from 2012. This is the fourth consecutive year-over-year increase and follows three years of double-digit growth from 2010 through 2012 as the industry climbed out of the 2009-10 recession. Of the 38 makes now on the market, 29 enjoyed year-over-year increases in 2013, eight saw declines and one (Tesla) could not be compared to 2012 since it had no sales at all last year. The five makes with the largest increases... Re...
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Porsche Macan: “De-Nichification” Continues

The Porsche Macan, Porsche's all-new small crossover revealed last week in Los Angeles and to be launched in the U.S. next spring, should be a "slam dunk," given the landscape of today's new vehicle market. The small luxury crossover segment is one of the fastest-growing in the industry, with registrations more than quadrupling since 2008 and share of industry up by almost the same amount (see table below). The number of small luxury crossovers in the market has doubled from four in 2008 to...
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Mercedes-Benz CLA Has a Strong Start

Monthly summaries of U.S. car and light truck sales focus on macro results such as the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), corporate results and brand results. Micro outcomes get less publicity even though they may be as noteworthy, if not more so. For instance, there has been little mention given to the fact that Mercedes-Benz dealers delivered 4,895 CLAs in October, its second month on the market. This tally follows 2,310 sales in September. The October figure is surprisingly strong and...R...
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Which Vehicles do Canadians Love to Buy?

Seeing the Signs Every new vehicle sold is a signal to OEMs that customers want more of that type of car or truck. In essence, customers are voting with their wallets and with business interests ever focused on customer loyalty and customer retention, an OEM should be seeing the market signs. National Trend: Consumers Continue to Buy New Through the second quarter of this year (2013 Q2), new vehicle sales are once again on the rise in Canada. New vehicle registrations indicate that...
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Exports Hurting Production in Brazil

Tax incentives were very effective in 2012 and helped Brazil reach a new sales record of 3,573,076 light vehicles. With this success, Brazil remained the fourth largest automotive market in the world, just behind China, the United States and Japan. Polk's automotive forecast does include any changes in this ranking in 2013 when sales in Brazil are anticipated to reach 3.63 million light vehicles. However, Brazil's importance declines when we analyze production numbers. Last year, production...
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Automotive Customer Loyalty - Who's Winning and How?

It's not always about who has the largest market share or the broadest product line. Sometimes repeat sales for OEMs and dealers are fruitful when you're a small player, too. Yesterday, Polk issued a press release of customer loyalty on automakers who beat the industry average by looking at first quarter results.  What did we find?
  • Thirteen brands exceeded the average industry increase for make loyalty when we compared buyer behavior from Q1 2012 and Q1 2013. The first three months of the...
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Automotive Brand Loyalty Winners/Losers – 2012 Year End

The automotive industry achieved nearly 14.5 million new vehicle sales in 2012, which resulted in a sales improvement of 13.4% versus 2011. There are many contributing factors to this sales achievement. The following all played a part in the industry resurgence:
  • Stabilized inventory levels from the Japanese automakers
  • Several new product introductions from all OEMs
  • Strengthening consumer confidence in the U.S. economy and
  • Lower unemployment rates
Also in 2012, we began to witness OEMs placing...
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Dodge, Nissan and Kia Aim to Move Up in the Small Car Arena

Three new cars are striving to gain ground in the huge non-luxury small car segment. The 2013 Dodge Dart was launched last June, the redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra last November, and the 2014 Kia Forte sedan arrives later this month. This segment accounted for 16% of all new vehicle registrations in 2012, second only to the midsize cars 17.6% among the 32 segments tracked by Polk. The non-luxury small car segment has been dominated for years by such well-known models as the Corolla, Civic and...Re...
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2009 Prices in 2013

How would you react if a law determined that all new vehicles, from now on, should have a sticker price from the first half of 2009? Moreover, could you as a dealer network afford to give back to all you customers what they paid beyond those prices between then and now? This can sound like an unrealistic scenario, but is a law approved in Venezuela. The law was create after Congress inspected and questioned OEMs, dealers and independent stores and got to the conclusion that vehicles are...
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New Product Launches Equal Greater Owner Loyalty

Every calendar year in the third quarter, the automotive industry is filled with excitement as OEM brands launch new model year products. These launches are comprised of new variants (engine, drive types), product refreshes/facelifts, all new product offerings and the next generation of existing models. In the third quarter of 2012, two Japanese automakers (Honda and Nissan) launched the next generation of their mid-size sedan models. The all new Honda Accord and Nissan Altima boast... Read More...
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Customer Loyalty - Dealers and Customers Win

For the U.S. automotive industry, superior customer loyalty was recognized this week. I had the pleasure of watching our customers receive the annual Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards in Detroit as part of the overall activities surrounding the 2013 NAIAS (North American International Auto Show). It's a great feeling knowing OEMs and their dealer networks are working like crazy to make the buying and vehicle ownership experience richer, truer and highly relevant for their customers. As in past... Re...
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Main Markets in South America Face Protectionism Wave

South America is a very diverse continent. Brazil, its main country, forbids diesel passenger cars and speaks Portuguese, but is surrounded by Spanish speaking countries. French Guiana still belongs to France, something not very common nowadays. Consumer behavior is also different: Toyota, for example, is the market leader in Peru and has a higher share in the countries closer to the Pacific Ocean, while customer loyalty in Brazil and Argentina goes toward brands from Europe and the United...Read...
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Autos in 2013 and Beyond - Industry Trends to Watch

Many of you may be returning to work this week after an extended vacation around the holiday season. Welcome back! I'll keep this blog short and informative. It's 2013 and the world didn't end last month as the Mayans (supposedly) predicted. Given this, we can officially remove Mayan prognosticators from the category of a legitimate forecasting entity. However, Polk has a few predictions. They go something like this: 
  1. New auto sales for 2013 will jump 6.6 percent over last year. Our U.S....
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Americans are Holding their Vehicles Longer...is it Good for Loyalty?

As someone who works in the auto industry, knowing how long Amercians hold onto their car or truck gives me a sense of what future sales demand may look like--"demand" in terms of selling replacement parts and service as well as understanding factors that impact new vehicle sales. We're all looking for "demand signals," right? Polk's research shows that as of the second quarter of 2012, the average number of months that both new and used vehicle owners hold onto their vehicles is climbing....
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Toyota Thrives in the "Middle"

There is a theory in professional baseball that if a team is strong "up the middle" (i.e., in the positions in the middle of the field from catcher through pitcher, second base and shortstop to center field), it will have a competitive advantage. If this theory also holds true for the U.S. automobile business, then Toyota should be in good shape. A look at the product portfolios in the midsize segments from the mainstream non-luxury makes shows Toyota is in a strong position. Toyota offers...
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Buick Goes Against Trend and Attracts Younger Buyers

An analysis of new vehicle buyers shows that their average age was 51 years old in 2011, three years older than buyers in 2007. In 2011, 40% of all buyers were aged 55 years or older, up from about 30% just four years earlier. And, in keeping with much commentary about today’s youth, in 2011, only 11% of all new vehicle buyers were aged 34 years or younger, down from almost 16% four years earlier. Perhaps today’s young people indeed do have less interest in cars or perhaps they don’t have the...R...
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By the Numbers: Automotive Loyalty and Owner Age

In my last post, I discussed the importance of retaining young vehicle buyers. In this blog, I thought I would share some 2011 calendar year-end findings regarding owner loyalty and age. The chart below shows the distribution of owners returning to market based on age. Owners between the ages of 35-64 account for more than 70% of all return to market activity. Yet as seen in the graph below, less than 50% (46.6%) of these owners are loyal to their given brand. It is clear from the graph above...
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