AutoLoop Study Finds Just 43 Percent of Customers Love Their Vehicle Brand, Translating Into Lost Sales for Auto Dealers
By Doug Van Sach
CLEARWATER, FL – June 6, 2017 – AutoLoop LLC, the leading provider of auto industry marketing and customer relationship management solutions that successfully drive the Sell, Service, Repeat cycle, today announced that auto dealerships are losing sales due to customers' lost love for their vehicle brands, according to survey results from AutoLoop's 2016 Digital Engagement (ADE) study.
The study revealed that just 43 percent of consumers expressed love for their vehicle brand, which means that 57 percent of consumers did not express any strong sentiment or feelings towards their current vehicle brand. This translates into lost sales opportunities for auto dealers, as customers who exhibited a strong sentiment towards their vehicle brand are 31 percent more likely to purchase the same brand than customers who did not give their brand a high score.
"Much has been written about America’s lost love affair with their vehicles, but little research is available to validate the idea. We decided to put some numbers behind the idea, so we could help new car dealers better understand the implications to their business," said Doug Van Sach, AutoLoop’s Vice President of Analytics and Data Services.
AutoLoop's Digital Engagement study asked 1,000 car owners the following:
- Do you feel a close connection with your vehicle brand?
- Are you passionate about your vehicle brand?
- Are you committed to your vehicle brand?
These questions were designed to measure the strength of a customer's relationship with their vehicle brand based on a technique made popular by Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg. Sternberg's "triangular theory of love" identified three key traits that exist in any relationship: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Sternberg said that each component represents a different aspect of love and, by understanding each component, the strength of an interpersonal relationship can be measured.
Customers evaluated their vehicle on each of these components of love using a 9-point scale. AutoLoop used the top two scores (8 or 9) to identify customers who had a strong feeling for their vehicle brand. The results revealed the following:
- 48% of consumers felt a strong commitment to their vehicle brand
- 44% of consumers felt a strong connection to their vehicle brand
- 36% of consumers felt a strong passion towards their vehicle brand
Evaluating these combined averages, just 43 percent of consumers expressed sentiment strong enough to be defined as 'love' towards their vehicle brands. The low overall score is significant for dealers since it impacts future purchase behavior. Additionally, this lost love sets dealers up for poor customer retention rates and high risk of customer conquests from competition.
AutoLoop's study also revealed that the greatest area of opportunity for auto manufacturers and dealers relates to passion. Only 36 percent of customers expressed a strong passion for their vehicle brand.
"Dealers can take an active role in addressing this gap by adding some excitement to the customer relationship," said Van Sach. "One of the greatest opportunities lies with the ability to personalize each relationship using technology, such as mobile devices to engage customers throughout the purchase experience, or interactive websites that tailor each visit towards customers' individual preferences."
Other methods successfully used by dealers to introduce excitement into the dealer-customer relationship include:
- Sponsoring community events
- Offering complimentary services for customers while they wait for their vehicle to be serviced
- Hosting customer events to show appreciation for and ask feedback from customers
As part of the study, AutoLoop dug deeper to evaluate the love of a vehicle brand in generational and gender groups. While the differences between generations were minor, with Millennials exhibiting slightly lower relationship scores, the biggest gap was between women and men. 47 percent of men demonstrated a feeling of love towards their brand, while only 38 percent of women shared the same sentiment.
"Overall dealers and manufacturers are doing a better job addressing women’s needs and desires in marketing and the customer experience, but there's clearly room for improvement," said Van Sach.
AutoLoop's study reveals the importance of love for a vehicle brand and its impact on future purchase behavior. Manufacturers and dealers who generate more love towards their brand will ultimately outperform their competitors in vehicle sales.
"The good news is that there is tremendous opportunity for dealers who can create a sense of excitement and passion, and who understand the importance of building an engaging relationship with customers," said Van Sach. "Our study revealed that for both dealers and manufacturers, it's time to reevaluate marketing strategies and the ownership experience so that Americans can fall back in love with their vehicles."
AutoLoop's 2016 Digital Engagement (ADE) study surveyed 1,000 auto consumers and analyzed the purchase behavior of over 4 million customers representing 1,000 dealerships from across the U.S.
Since 2005, AutoLoop has helped automotive dealerships nationwide increase sales, improve client retention and achieve overall higher customer satisfaction ratings throughout the Sell, Service, Repeat cycle. With the AutoLoop Customer Engagement Suite—an all-encompassing platform that includes everything from CRM and automated messaging to equity mining, service scheduling and more—AutoLoop is the industry’s first and only single-vendor, end-to-end marketing and engagement solution. An Inc. 500 company with nearly 50 million names in its database and over a billion individual communications initiated, AutoLoop is passionate about being America's best customer retention partner for progressive dealerships.