Auto Brand Loyalty Isn’t What it Used to Be

Auto Brand Loyalty Isn’t What it Used to Be

 Oct 21, 2009

According to a new study from CNW Marketing Research, only about 20 percent of new car shoppers stay with the auto brand they grew up on, reversing decades of assumed loyalty. Gone, apparently, when men (and it was usually men) would jingle the change in their pockets and pronounce themselves Ford or Chevy fans for life.

This is bad news for the Big Three, which need consumers to stick with them as they struggle to recover from the recession.

In the 1980s, according to the New York Times, four in five Americans stayed with a single car company—usually a domestic. In 2004, Chevrolet was the top-selling brand, followed by Ford and Toyota a fairly distant third. Today, Toyota is number one, Chevrolet has slipped to number three, and both Honda and Nissan are in the top five.

The results seem to support a Experian Automotive study from earlier this year that gave high marks to Ford for retaining loyalty to such models as the Ford Fusion (62 percent retention), Edge (57.9), Escape (49.4) and the Focus (47.5). Six of the top ten retention models in the survey were Fords, but also placing high was the Toyota Prius (52 percent), Camry (47.8) and Corolla (47.5). GM’s sole top ten placer was the Chevrolet Impala, with a healthy 51.7 retention.

Last June, a CNW report said that Ford stood a good chance to pick up Pontiac customers when that brand disappears. The survey said 38 percent of buyers interested in a Pontiac would look at Ford, versus only 33 percent for other GM brands. If it can’t retain Pontiac loyalists, GM’s market share could erode further.


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