Regardless of their age, consumers are consistently more loyal to Asian automotive brands compared to European and US vehicle manufacturers, according to research by R. L. Polk & Co.
For the 2006 model year, overall make loyalty for the automotive industry stood at 44.4%. While domestic makes were close to the industry average (43.5%), Asian makes achieved 47.6% while European brands stood at only 37.3%.
But another interesting observation in Polk's latest study is that, regardless of brand, vehicle owner loyalty increases as the head of the household gets older.
According to Lonnie Miller, director of industry analysis for R. L. Polk & Co., "The largest increase in make loyalty came from Asian brands, when comparing buyer activity over the past two model years. There was an additional 41% of returning Asian brand customers who bought within that vehicle community again."
While vehicle owners aged 65+ typically rated the highest for brand loyalty (50.5%), Polk's survey data showed that these consumers represent only 13.4% of new owners returning to market for another new vehicle. Further examination shows slightly more than 75% of those returning to market are actually aged between 35 and 64, which provides a core buyer base for almost any brand.
"Automakers and their marketing partners should consider these findings when communicating with different age groups," said Miller. "While it can't be taken as a 'cause and effect' issue, there's definitely a strong relationship between the age and the degree of loyalty we see to a given brand."
The patterns noted in the Polk analysis are relatively consistent, too. Examinations between 2004 and 2006 model years also indicate that brand loyalty across age groups rises as the age of the head of household increases.
"As consumers age and progress through different vehicles, it makes sense that they learn more and have more meaningful experiences that would cause their loyalty to increase," concluded Miller. "However, strong levels of cross-shopping are not always valuable to consumers, depending on the experience. In the end, this can help brand loyalty."