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J.D. Power: Fewer Shoppers Avoiding Domestics For Reliability


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J.D. Power: Fewer Shoppers Avoiding Domestics For Reliability


For Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, and Hyundai, among several other domestic and Korean brands, it looks like perceptions are finally catching up with reality.

According to J.D. Power and Associates' 2010 Avoider Study, which focuses on the reasons why shoppers fail to consider—or avoid—a vehicle, car shoppers are no longer crossing domestic or Korean brands off their shopping lists due to a perceived reliability gap.

On a model basis, key redesigns from several of these brands far surpass their predecessors in consideration rates: 2011 Kia Sorento, Cadillac SRX, Ford Taurus. Wise says that these models are not only attracting more consideration but also elevating the perceptions of their brands.

Avoidance due to concerns about the future of a brand has lessened as a reason to avoid. Consumers especially seem to be more confident in the staying power of domestic brands, Wise commented, perhaps due to the rebound of GM and Chrysler. Just over the past year or so, several brands including Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer have disappeared from the market.

Perception catches up with reality

Reliability for most GM and Ford products has been quite good for many years—even according to Consumer Reports. Power says that one-fifth of vehicle shoppers avoid a vehicle because of concerns about reliability. "But when it comes to reliability, perception does not always meet reality," commented Kerri Wise, director of automotive research at the firm, in video accompanying the release. "Some brands are avoided more often than warranted given their actual performance."

According to J.D. Power, Ford GMC, Hyundai, Kia, and Ram (Dodge trucks) are among the brands that have been successful in improving perceptions about reliability, and that's meant fewer shoppers are avoiding them. Audi, Scion, and Smart have also improved in perceived reliability.

Avoidance due to a bad prior experience with the brand has increased in importance, Power reports, which might help us understand why it takes some customers a long time to trust reported reliability improvements.

Recalls causing hesitation

Meanwhile, recent high-profile safety recalls for a number of brands—Toyota especially—has led consumers to be more hesitant about those brands, Power reports.

J.D. Power says that focusing on avoidance is important because up to 30 percent of vehicle buyers don't cross-shop any other vehicle.

Furthermore the pool of potential vehicle shoppers has shrunk in recent years due to tighter credit and other economic reasons like employment.

The 2010 Avoider Study is based on responses, gathered last August through October, from about 25,000 owners of vehicles registered in May 2010.

Exterior styling remains the number-one reason for avoiding a model (35 percent). After that cost, perceived reliability, interior styling, and the manufacturer's reputation are top reasons for avoidance



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Goodbye Detroit: Foreign-car owners rarely switch to U.S. brands

01:33 PM

Among people who own Detroit-brand vehicles, 69% will buy another Detroiter when it's time to trade, says consultant J.D. Power and Associates.

That sounds good; makes you wonder what the problem is -- if there is one -- selling Ford Motor, General Motors and Chrysler Group vehicles.

Yes, there is a problem, at least from the Motor City perspective. The same J.D. Power data -- Power's Customer Retention Study -- show that a

staggering 90% of people who own import-brand vehicles buy another import brand.

Let's put it another way: Almost everybody who owns a foreign car buys another. Almost one-third of the people who own a Detroit machine don't buy another. The tiny bright spot for Detroit: This year, 14% of Detroit buyers traded import-brand vehicles, up from 10% in 2008, Power says.

That comes from the same Power data that show fun-to-drive characteristics are becoming more important to owners and resale value, less important.



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Poor Styling, High Costs, Quality Concerns Top Reasons Buyers Reject Auto Brands

Toyota’s safety issues led many to avoid brand, says new J.D. Power study.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Dec.15, 2010

Safety concerns have led many buyers to avoid Toyota products, says a new study.

Poor styling and problems with quality and reliability are two of the top reasons why potential customers will avoid a particular brand, finds a new study.

Overcoming such concerns is a key challenge for automakers with poor reputations, despite recent improvements, reports J.D. Power and Associates, in its annual Avoider Study. But as concerns about their future viability lessens, domestic brands are getting back on motorists’ shopping lists.

Meanwhile, the latest data show that Toyota’s ongoing safety and quality problems could have a serious long-term impact on the brand, many current and potential customers scratching Toyota off their shopping lists.

“Recent safety recalls have clearly caused some consumers to be hesitant in considering certain brands,” said Power’s Director of Automotive Research Kerri Wise. “In contrast, consumer concerns about the staying power of some domestic brands have been alleviated—following a swift move through bankruptcy proceedings—and due to the beginnings of a recovery in the automotive market.”

The Avoiders Study, now in its eighth year, probes why consumers fail to consider—or avoid—particular models when shopping for a new vehicle.

The latest report finds some significant shifts in buyer behavior, notably an increasing awareness and interest in domestic and Korean brands by U.S. car buyers. Ford, Cadillac and Kia, in particular, are showing “substantially higher” consideration rates, while Hyundai, GMC and Chrysler’s new Ram division are all showing positive momentum, according to the Power research.

New product launches, the firm found, can have a particularly profound impact on how buyers view a brand, and three new models that have moved the needle are the Cadillac SRX, Ford Taurus and Kia Sorento.

Appealing styling and good quality clearly work to the advantage of a manufacturer, Power reported. On the flip side, 35% of buyers said poor styling is a primary reason to avoid a brand.

The other Top Five reasons for avoiding a brand are that its products costs too much; poor perceptions of reliability; dislike of interior styling; and bad reputation of the manufacturer.

Over the last several years, many potential customers steered clear of Detroit nameplates because of fears the Big Three might go out of business. That is now less of a concern. But having a poor perception of a manufacturer or actually having a bad experience with one of its products are two of the prime reasons buyers avoid a brand.

“Perceptions about reliability are slow to change, and some brands have a negative consumer perception that is at odds with reality,” said Wise. “However, brands are getting the word out about their actual reliability performance and are slowly but steadily changing perceptions.”



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