Car Brand Loyal or Car Brand Hopper – Which One Are You?
Car brand loyalty may be something new to your ears, but manufacturers have actually been offering buyers incentives for sticking to a single brand. According to an R.L. Polk survey in early 2013, 48% of the people who bought a car in 2012 chose the same brand they owned in the past. The survey found that car companies Ford (61.2% repeat buyers), Benz (57.7% repeat buyers) and Toyota (54.4% repeat buyers) had the most number of loyal customers.
Still, car brand hopping is a huge concern for many automakers in that more than half of buyers don’t want to stick to a single brand. Loyalty, it seems, is such a precious virtue, and for businesses, it readily translates to money in the bank. That’s why car dealers and agents are trying so hard to get customers into buying a new car of the same brand as their old one.
One of the ways carmakers encourage customer loyalty is through “loyalty discounts” or outright cash rebates. Meanwhile, rival brands offer the so-called “conquest cash” to brand switchers. General Motors has what they call “GM-Preferred Owner” program that awards points to loyal buyers each time they have their car serviced at the dealership.
Meanwhile, BMW has been offering customers four years of free maintenance. The brand has seen nearly 100% of buyers coming to the dealership for the free maintenance, and during this time, dealers have the chance to cultivate a relationship with the customers.
Buyers tend to be brand-loyal because of the car’s fuel economy, reliability and price, said J.D. Power and Associates, a consumer research company. Understandably, customers are more loyal to Honda’s Civic and Accord cars because these cars have high resale value and high reliability. Meanwhile, brands Suzuki and Dodge earned the lowest loyalty scores and lowest resale values.
For car owners, having a dependable car over the years can be a good benchmark for their next purchase. While advertisements of other brands can seem too appealing, many people nowadays know exactly what to choose between a tried-and-tested brand and a newcomer. Price and fuel economy may play compel brand shifts, but when buyers find the new unit not meeting their expectation, they are ever ready to switch back to their trusted brand.