Keeping existing customers is a hallmark to success in any business, and it’s especially important in the automotive industry, where the average product costs well over $30,000 and the typical ownership cycle is five or more years.
While automakers in the luxury segment are often thought of as enjoying among the most loyal customers in the business, the top names in this regard are all mainstream makes, according to a just-released report based on second-quarter 2011 sales compiled by Experian Automotive in Schaumburg, Ill.
Data shows that Kia currently boasts the most loyal owner body, with nearly 48 per cent of buyers returning to the brand this year. Ford is second highest with 46.5 per cent repeat business. Chevrolet, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda all registered around 40 per cent brand loyalty, with Subaru bringing back buyers at the rate of around 36 per cent.
Among luxury automakers, the highest-ranking brands were Mercedes-Benz with 34.8 per cent repeat buyers, BMW at 31.7 per cent, Porsche at 23 per cent and Jaguar at 16 per cent.
Kia’s parent company Hyundai Motor Group posted a corporate loyalty rate of 49.6 per cent, according to Experian’s data, just edging out Ford Motor Co. at 48.1 per cent and General Motors at 47.6 per cent.
“According to our latest market report, Hyundai Motor Group has been making strides in customer loyalty for several years,” says Jeffrey Anderson, director of consulting and analytics for Experian Automotive. “In North America, both Kia and Hyundai have made improvements in vehicle styling and quality among both brands. This has clearly helped them gain and maintain a strong and loyal customer base.”
Three Kia models ranked among the top 10 vehicles having the most brand loyalty in Experian’s report, including the list-leading Kia Forte compact sedan at 68 per cent, along with the Soul compact wagon and the two-door compact Forte Koup.
Seven out of 10 of the models in Experian’s list were comprised of mainstream domestic-brand models, topped by the Chevrolet Cruze in second place with 64 per cent brand loyalty. The remainder were Ford models, including the subcompact Fiesta, the midsize Fusion sedan, the seven-passenger Flex crossover SUV, the Taurus full-size sedan and the compact Focus.
Experian’s study also concluded that among automotive segments, full-size truck owners were the most likely to purchase another big pickup, registering 58.6 repeat business during the second quarter of 2011. Owners of hybrid cars trade in for other hybrids at the rate of 43 per cent, as do those buying premium crossover SUVs. The least brand-loyal were found to sports car owners, with just 21 per cent buying another equally racy model, and those driving mid-range SUVs – a segment that been steadily losing traction to car-based crossovers in recent years – at 21 per cent.