Hardcore auto brand loyalty may have gone out with the Big 3, but it still reigns supreme in the full-size pickup truck market.
“Loyalty is as high as 58 per cent in this segment,” Chris Travell, Maritz, Canada’s V-P strategic consulting, told Canadian AutoWorld.
He thinks that’s largely due to the fact most pickup owners are men. But it’s loyalty that makes conquest sales so difficult, he observed.
Elsewhere, loyalty isn’t what it used to be. It doesn’t mean sticking with the same brand through thick and thin. Maritz says it surveys the brand loyalty of 50,000 Canadians a year in its New Vehicle Customer Study. It has been asking Canadians why they bought what they bought since 1981.
The questionnaire asks Canadians a wide range of questions, 250 in all. Maritz wants to know the age of the buyers and their psychographic,” meaning lifestyle, attitudes, beliefs, values, personality, and buying motives.
“We ask what they do with their spare time, their feelings about things.”
How many of the 50,00 actually respond is a trade secret. “It’s a very representative sample.”
In the last few years, luxury brands have more loyalists, but that’s not written in stone.
“Loyalty depends on the year,” Travell explained. “If you come back after five or six years, and see nothing new, it encourages people to shop around.”
Reliability doesn’t count for as much. It’s a given, he says.
“Japanese makes tended to be stronger here, but there aren’t too many bad cars out there. So other things come into play. Price or deal is key in both segments.”
But luxury car buyers tend to be fickle when it comes to something new.
The credit crunch in 2008 didn’t yield as dramatic a shuffle as he thought it would. It was a 50/50 split. But he won’t say which brands won and which lost. Maritz’ agreement with the automakers it compiles the survey for forbids that.
The tsunami didn’t bring a tidal wave of brand switching either.
“It hurt a wide range of OEMs, BMW and Chrysler, for example, because car manufacturing is international. Floods in Thailand hurt Honda but others as well.”
Travell says the data become fodder for Maritz marketing campaigns, which are aimed at keeping customers and conquering others. To keep the survey relevant to its consumers, Canada’s automakers, he says there is much input yearly from those same automakers.