Poor styling and problems with quality and reliability are two of the top reasons why potential customers will avoid a particular brand, finds a new study.
Overcoming such concerns is a key challenge for automakers with poor reputations, despite recent improvements, reports J.D. Power and Associates, in its annual Avoider Study. But as concerns about their future viability lessens, domestic brands are getting back on motorists’ shopping lists.
Meanwhile, the latest data show that Toyota’s ongoing safety and quality problems could have a serious long-term impact on the brand, many current and potential customers scratching Toyota off their shopping lists.
“Recent safety recalls have clearly caused some consumers to be hesitant in considering certain brands,” said Power’s Director of Automotive Research Kerri Wise. “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.”
The Avoiders Study, now in its eighth year, probes why consumers fail to consider—or avoid—particular models when shopping for a new vehicle.
The latest report finds some significant shifts in buyer behavior, notably an increasing awareness and interest in domestic and Korean brands by U.S. car buyers. Ford, Cadillac and Kia, in particular, are showing “substantially higher” consideration rates, while Hyundai, GMC and Chrysler’s new Ram division are all showing positive momentum, according to the Power research.
New product launches, the firm found, can have a particularly profound impact on how buyers view a brand, and three new models that have moved the needle are the Cadillac SRX, Ford Taurus and Kia Sorento.
Appealing styling and good quality clearly work to the advantage of a manufacturer, Power reported. On the flip side, 35% of buyers said poor styling is a primary reason to avoid a brand.
The other Top Five reasons for avoiding a brand are that its products costs too much; poor perceptions of reliability; dislike of interior styling; and bad reputation of the manufacturer.
Over the last several years, many potential customers steered clear of Detroit nameplates because of fears the Big Three might go out of business. That is now less of a concern. But having a poor perception of a manufacturer or actually having a bad experience with one of its products are two of the prime reasons buyers avoid a brand.
“Perceptions about reliability are slow to change, and some brands have a negative consumer perception that is at odds with reality,” said Wise. “However, brands are getting the word out about their actual reliability performance and are slowly but steadily changing perceptions.”