Conducted by Polk and AutoTrader.com, the 2012 New Luxury Vehicle Loyalty study examines the reasons why luxury car buyers stay loyal or switch to a competitor brand. The survey was conducted between September to November 2011 among 1485 American luxury car buyers from six high-end car manufacturers namely Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.
“Understanding behaviors and attitudes is critical in helping automotive marketers to more effectively reach and influence luxury shoppers during their decision making process”, said vice president of automotive insights at AutoTrader, Rick Wainschel.
When brand loyalists were questioned about why they stayed loyal to a brand, the top five reasons given were:
1. Brand Affinity (cited by 44 percent)
2. Quality/Reliability (cited by 33 percent)
3. Driving Performance (cited by 24 percent)
4. Price/Finance/Value (cited by 16 percent)
5. Styling/Design (cited by 16 percent)
Drilling further into the details by brand, the study also revealed that the primary drivers of loyalty differed by brand. Below are the details:
• Audi loyalists rank styling and design significantly higher than other brand loyalists as a reason to stay.
• Dealership loyalty emerges as a "Top Five" reason for brand loyalty among Lexus and Mercedes-Benz owners.
• Brand affinity ranks significantly higher among Cadillac loyalists than any other luxury brand.
• Quality/reliability is cited more often by Mercedes-Benz and Acura loyalists as a reason for returning to that brand.
• BMW loyalists are more apt to identify driving performance as a reason for their return purchase than other luxury owners.
• Price ranks much higher as a reason for Acura owner loyalty compared to the other luxury brands in the study.
• Acura is the only brand where technology and innovation rank as a "Top Five" reason to stay loyal to the brand.
On the other hand, the top five reasons why luxury car buyers decide to switch to another brand are:
1. Price/Finance/Value (quoted by 24 percent)
2. Size/Body Style (quoted by 20 percent)
3. Brand Affinity (quoted by 17 percent)
4. Time to Change (quoted by 14 percent)
5. Driving Performance and Styling/Design (quoted by 13 percent each)
"This study illuminated important differences for staying loyal or defecting from luxury brands and how those key drivers of loyalty and defection are different for each luxury brand," commented Mark Pauzé, senior solutions consultant with Polk. “The insights gained from this study will be very useful for luxury brands as they strategize on how best to retain more of their customers and key drivers that could attract new buyers or keep current owners from defecting," he added.