Satisfaction not enough for vehicle buyers

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on January 16, 2003

Satisfaction not enough for vehicle buyers

Having concluded that satisfying new vehicle owners was not enough, and that the modern consumer demands more, California-based Strategic Vision has published its automotive 'Total Delight Index' to help manufacturers design vehicles that bring the loyalty they need in a competitive marketplace.

According to Strategic Vision's president, Dr Darrel Edwards, when vehicle buyers use the word "satisfied" they simply mean that the manufacturer has fulfilled the basic contract to supply a roadworthy vehicle. Therefore satisfaction was the logical midpoint of the Total Delight Index (TDI).

"'Delighted' is a more positive and emotional response than simply 'excellent'. You can create an excellent vehicle without delighting the customer," explained Edwards. "When you do delight your customer, you create a strong emotional response that commits the customer to the product, brand, or manufacturer. That leads to loyalty - where the customer chooses that brand whenever possible."

Delightful leaders The highest scorer on the index was the 2002 BMW 7 Series, with the 3 Series and X5 also leading their respective segments, as did the Mini Cooper. Honda also had four leaders: the Insight, Accord Coupe, Odyssey and CR-V.

Toyota showed its muscle in truck categories, with the Sequoia, Tacoma and Tundra heading their classes. However, the Japanese manufacturer had no leaders in car categories.

Domestic vehicles Among domestic vehicles, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was the most delightful compact car, according to those who bought it. General Motors had two leaders in about-to-be-discontinued vehicles: the Oldsmobile Aurora and the Pontiac Firebird. Perhaps surprisingly, Ford had no leaders in any segment, despite its Focus being ranked well in the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards.

"The auto industry talks a lot about 'delighting your customers' but nobody had created a means of explicitly measuring this facet," said Daniel Gorrell, vice president for Strategic Vision. "And creating delight is critical to all manufacturers who are forced to compete intensively in a crowded market place."

The index was calculated from the responses of more than 76,665 buyers of new 2002-model vehicles who had made their purchases between October 2001 and March 2002. They had at least ninety days to experience their vehicles before they were surveyed.

Other leaders The winners for the small car segment were the Honda Insight (593) and the Suzuki Aerio (569); for compact cars, the Chrysler PT Cruiser (587) and the Volkswagen Jetta (560); for mid-size cars, the Volkswagen Passat (651) and the Nissan Altima (620); for larger cars, the Oldsmobile Aurora (515) and the Chrysler Concorde (485); for luxury cars, the BMW 7 Series (775) and the BMW 5 Series (764), and for convertibles over US$30,000, the Audi TT (760) and the Lexus SC 430 (751).

The index scores represent the responses of customers who actually bought the vehicle they were rating. "Some of the winners have been controversial among auto experts," explained Gorrell. "But people who were turned off by a particular feature probably ruled out a particular vehicle. The key for manufacturers is to know your target and delight your customers."

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