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Consumer Buzz: Touring the Autobahn

May 14, 2012 2 comments

When we last took a spin in our monthly auto data, we found that Subaru owners were the most likely to recommend their vehicles to friends and family. While that’s still true of the 18 vehicle nameplates* we analyzed for this new report, we thought it would be interesting to add some new faces to the mix – and analyze this data by each automaker’s country of origin.

Auto NPS Index - KeyBefore we begin today’s tour, though, let’s review some of the details. By applying the Net Promoter Score (NPS)** metrics system to our May Consumer Survey data, we can see which drivers (i.e. Ford owners, Toyota owners, etc.)  are buzzing about their current cars as well as which think their autos are wrecks. For this new analysis, we took the percentage of a nameplate’s detractors and subtracted them from the number of those who actively promote their current automaker, which helps us evaluate the strength of a brand’s image. We then took these scores and indexed them to the national average of ALL vehicle owners, +18.5%. Please note that all graphics are based on the Net Promoter Score Index, where an index of 100 = average.

First Up: Germany

When one thinks of the European nameplates hailing from this country, the words quality and/or luxury may come to mind…that is, unless you ask a few BMW owners. While each of the German automakers we took a look at (BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen) scored a positive Net Promoter Score, BMW’s rating was the only one to fall below the national average for all vehicle owners (index = 93). The force is definitely with Volkswagen in this grouping [still loving that Super Bowl commercial], where the automaker secures a NPS which nearly doubles that of the overall average (index = 191).

Auto NPS Index - Germany

Next Stop: Japan

What might be more impressive than VW’s 191 NPS index? Try Toyota’s 274. The world’s largest automaker is a word-of-mouth hit with consumers, as is its luxury counterpart, Lexus (index = 261), and one of its staunchest competitors, Honda (index = 239). Of course, the aforementioned Subaru drives away the winner in this region (index = 287). Overall, owners of Japanese nameplates are positively abuzz about their vehicles, each scoring above average:

Auto NPS Index - Japan

Final Destination: United States

In general, drivers seem to have love-hate relationships with the BIG 3. On one hand, it’d be great to “buy American,” but on the other, these automakers have been plagued by bankruptcies, inflated prices, as well as safety and quality issues [insert any number of vehicular anagrams here]. Among some of the U.S.-based nameplates, though, we can find a ray of light; Net Promoter Scores for both Cadillac and Ford index above average. Unfortunately, Chevrolet, Buick, Lincoln, Chrysler, and Dodge suffer from below average ratings. In fact, out of the 18 nameplates we analyzed for this blog, Dodge was the lone automaker suffering from a negative Net Promoter Score (NPS = -0.6%), which means its detractors slightly outweighed its promoters. Lincoln and Chrysler just barely eked out positive ratings with 5.3% and 7.1% Net Promoter Scores, respectively. So while the Detroit automakers are working on turnarounds, it does seem that they continue to be hindered by Americans’ perceptions of their vehicles.

Auto NPS Index - USA

All told, it’s evident that the BIG 3 still have A LOT of work to do when it comes to improving their brand image with consumers, which is key because we’re the ones ultimately doing the buying, right?

Auto NPS Index - Overall

*Select Currently Owned Vehicle Nameplates (Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Dodge, Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, Nissan, Infiniti, Subaru) were analyzed for this blog. Respondent counts for each nameplate ranged from N = 42 to N = 1085.

**Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

The NPS which takes a simple question–Would you recommend us to a friend?–has helped countless organizations better understand “promoters” and “detractors” and paint a clear picture of their company’s performance through the eyes of their customers. By applying the Net Promoter Score*, executives can identify their customer base and move beyond “sufficient” to brand loyalty and growth.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

The Changing American Consumer

February 17, 2012 1 comment

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dr. Marianne Bickle, from the University of South Carolina, on her latest book, The Changing American Consumer. She analyzed ten years’ worth of insights gathered from over a million consumer interviews from BIGinsight™ to paint a picture of how the American consumer is continuously changing.

Consumers have been evolving since the 1960’s, but recent events such as terrorism, financial crises and natural disasters have burned them. A new consumer has emerged from the “fire” with a new identity and a new focus. It’s no longer about the “McMansion” or a Hummer. Consumers are more practical, more budget-conscious and more in control of the marketplace.

In her book, Dr. Bickle not only details these changes, but translates it into relevant information that retailers can use. Topics include consumers’ financial wellbeing, building the American castle, their love affair with automobiles, fast food habits, and how they communicate, to name a few.

We are really excited about this book because Marianne provides an insightful and entertaining look at the American consumer. Her analysis will certainly help companies as they refocus their strategies in an ever-changing market.

Click here for more information: www.ChangingConsumer.com/info

Generation Gap: Promote my Ride

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Do you like what you drive? Would you convince your friends and family members to buy your brand? Or would you tell them to stay away? As a crazy Kia fan (who knows how to shuffle), I wondered which consumers are spreading the word about how awesome their ride is (like me!) and which stare at their luxury car calendar just wishing some day they could own something better.

In our January survey of 9,317 consumers, we asked drivers on a scale from 0-10 how likely it is that they would recommend the car they drive most often to friends or colleagues. Those who said 0-6 are Detractors (“Don’t ever buy this car!”), those who said 7 or 8 are Passives (“This car is decent.”) and those who said 9 or 10 are Promoters (“My ride rocks! You should get one!”). By subtracting Detractors from Promoters, you arrive at the Net Promoter Score* (you may remember this from our pre-holiday auto post when Lexus scored the highest among other vehicle brands).

Instead of looking at top-rated vehicles like we did in our latest press release (this month Subaru is #1), I looked at each generation’s likelihood to recommend their ride.

Surprisingly, the Silent Generation (born 1945 or earlier) scored the highest, with 34.0%. Older consumers appear more likely to be satisfied with their vehicles and willing to talk to their friends and family about purchasing the same brand. Generation Y (born 1983-1994) was more likely to spread negative publicity for the brand of vehicle they drive, scoring -11.8%. Gen Yers’ tweets and Facebook posts are more likely to say “My hunk of junk broke down…AGAIN!!” rather than “Get yourself a Kia and come party rock with me!” (unless you are reading my Twitter…) Boomers and Gen Xers both show positive Net Promoter Scores, with Boomers more likely to recommend their wheels to the world.

What about you? Would you promote your ride? Or do you hide it in the garage and bum rides off your friends? We love to hear from you!

Source: BIGinsight.com, January 2012

*Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

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