When a shopper avoids a model because of quality or reliability concerns, it may not always stem from tangible proof or some specific experience.
"Pre-conceived notions” can often be heavy influencers when shoppers form a certain perception about a brand’s quality/reliability, according to J.D. Power and Associates. As such, the firm urged automakers who have improved their quality to get the word out and emphasize these changes to consumers.
Consider what J.D. Power found during its 2012 Avoider Study, where it surveyed consumers about why they avoid certain models.
More than two-fifths (43 percent) of consumers who cited quality/reliability concerns as the reason for steering clear of a model said their rationale was that “the brand’s vehicles, in general, are known to have poor quality/reliability.”
Comparatively, 38 percent cited ratings and reviews as the reason for having quality/reliability concerns about a vehicle. Meanwhile, just 14 percent said prior ownership led them to their viewpoint.
“The fact that so many new-vehicle buyers may be basing their opinions about quality and reliability on pre-conceived notions, rather than concrete information or data, demonstrates how important it is for automakers to promote the quality and reliability of their models,” said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power.
“For some brands, namely those that have created marked improvements in their quality and reliability in recent years, it’s even more vital to tell their improvement story, rather than just waiting for perceptions to change over time,” he added.
Looking at some other reasons cited for brand avoidance, 14 percent of those staying away from import models said it was the brand’s origin that led them to the decision. That proportion is the highest it has ever been during the 10 years of the study, officials noted.
As for buyers who steered clear of domestic vehicles, only 6 percent did so because of them being U.S. cars. This marks an all-time low.
“The decline in avoidance of U.S. models due to their origin reflects a buy-American sentiment that surfaced as the economic recession led to domestic job losses and adversely affected major U.S. institutions such as the Detroit Big 3,” Osborn stated.
“In addition, the quality, dependability and appeal of domestic models has improved during the past several years, as well, and this may also be a cause for declining avoidance,” he added.
Moving to the reason for buying a specific model, the most frequently cited cause was gas mileage. This has leaped over last year’s most popular reasons: reliability, the deal and exterior styling.
In light of this trend, there was a good bit of consumer gravitation toward the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius models.
Each of these vehicles had both gas mileage and environmental impact within the top two reasons consumers gave for buying the respective model.
Interestingly enough, though, the third most popular reason was different for each of these models.
Citing the “image the model portrays” was quite popular for Volt buyers. Leaf buyers were swayed by low maintenance costs. The reliability factor was influential for the Prius.
When it comes to avoidance for these three rides, Volt avoiders most often did so because of purchase price. Exterior styling was the main reason people stayed away from the Leaf and Prius.
The vehicle being small was also a popular reason people had for steering clear of the Volt and Leaf, and Prius avoiders were also likely to list performance as a reason.