Redesigned Models Offer Automakers the Best Chance to Increase Buyer Consideration

A redesigned new model is an automaker’s best chance to change past perceptions and increase buyer consideration. This conclusion comes from a new study released today that analyzes the reasons auto buyers fail to consider – or avoid – particular models when shopping for a new vehicle.

No surprises here for auto media, who often benefit from lavish press trips to introduce new models so that the resulting publicity increases buyer consideration.  

The J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Avoider Study also finds a shift in importance among the top reasons for avoiding competitive models when compared to 2009.

Having a bad prior experience or having a poor perception of a manufacturer’s reputation has increased in importance, while concerns regarding the future of certain brands have lessened.

This is an ongoing challenge for recall-plagued Toyota, which was the only major brand in the United States to see sales decline in November.

“Recent safety recalls have clearly caused some consumers to be hesitant in considering certain brands,” said Kerri Wise, director of automotive research at Power, who reminded me in an interview that Toyota was at the height of negative recall publicity when the survey was conducted.

“In contrast, consumer concerns about the staying power of some domestic brands have been alleviated, following a swift move through bankruptcy proceedings, and due to the beginnings of a recovery in the automotive market,” Wise said.

This is good news for reorganized General Motors Company and Chrysler Group since brands such as GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac; as well as Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram – all posting double digit improvements.

The study finds that some redesigned models have much higher consideration rates than the previous-generation models they replaced.

Among redesigned models, the Cadillac SRX, Ford Taurus and Kia Sorento have notably higher consideration rates, compared to their predecessors, as well as higher consideration rates than their respective segment averages.

Exterior styling is the most frequently mentioned reason for avoiding a model, which is cited by 35% of new-vehicle owners. Rounding out the top five reasons for avoiding a particular model:

model costs too much
poor perceptions of reliability
dislike of interior styling
a maker’s bad reputation

Among premium brands, concerns over maintenance costs also play a major role. This is despite a number of premium brands providing free maintenance as a part of the initial purchase price.

The 2010 Avoider Study is based on responses from approximately 25,000 owners who registered a new vehicle in May 2010. The study was fielded between August and October 2010. The study has been conducted for eight years.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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