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Ford and Honda on Top of J.D. Powers Survey

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On: Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 10:30AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford and Honda on Top of J.D. Powers Survey

The next time you’re at the mall, count all the Fords and Hondas. It’s a safe bet that there might be more of those brands than any other automobile. The reason, according to a recent J.D. Power and Associates poll: Ford and Honda top the lists for the highest customer retention rate. Guess who they left in the dust? Mercedes-Benz!

In the automotive industry, the retention rate refers to customer loyalty. There is retention rate for soap, pizza, and just about any other product on the supermarket shelves. The retention rate of car buyers is extremely important to the automakers. It’s how auto manufacturers plan to develop new designs and launch new marketing strategies. For example, one study found that the desire for a fun driving experience is actually more important than resale value. That’s going to have an impact on everything from TV commercials to cup holders.

Raffi Festekjian, director of automotive product research for J.D. Power and Associates, sums it up, “Ford is specifically producing products that have vehicle appeal, great styling, and are fun to drive.” This is reflected in the high retention rate numbers for the Ford Edge, F-Series, and Fusion styles. With Honda it was the Accord, CR-V, and Pilot that attracted the highest number of brand loyal customers.

Placing a strong third in the retention race is Kia Motors. They had their best showing in the survey above any other car by jumping up a whopping 21% for a 58% retention rate. The study ranked the opinions of car owners for 32 brands. In that group 16 brands improved their retention rate.

The survey revealed that the number one reason for sticking with a brand was the “seating arrangements.” Is it really that simple? After the seats, the other factors for re-buying from the same auto maker were look/style, safety, a good deal, then quality.

There was also good news on the “made in America” front. This year 14% of car buyers made the switch from buying imported to domestic cars. Last year the number was hovering around 10%. Brand loyalty doesn’t mean car buyers don’t still shop around. Quality and appeal can still bring customers into new showrooms.

“Consumers are shifting now to where they want it all,” Festekjian said. “They want the vehicles to be fun to drive and maybe aren't thinking of it so much as a vehicle to get me from point A to point B.”

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