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by Tim Beissmann

Quality, fuel economy and pricing are the three key factors that would persuade a buyer to abandon brand loyalty and embrace a competitor, according to a new study by US consumer advice website Consumer Reports.

The survey, which interviewed more than 1700 Americans, found that 75 percent of respondents believed higher quality from a competitor could encourage them to change brands.

Better fuel economy (73 percent) and lower price (67 percent) followed, with better safety record, more standard equipment and better overall reputation also among the most persuasive factors.

Owners were less concerned about dealership location and reputation, better styling and bigger cash rebates, with these ranking among the least important factors.

It found that women were more attracted to fuel economy and safety than men and were also 11 percent more likely to be brand loyal than men (54 percent vs 43 percent responding that they were “very likely” to buy another car from their current brand).

Age has a similar influence on brand loyalty, with half of those over 35 planning to stick with their current brand compared to 41 percent of 18 to 34 year olds.

“Possible reasons younger drivers could be influenced more readily include changing lifestyles, less experience with a given brand, greater peer influence, and being more trend-conscious,” the report said.

“We also found that household income does not play a role in car brand loyalty. Affluent consumers and those of modest means were nearly equal in their attachment to a brand.”

The report confirmed that manufacturers have a much greater influence over brand loyalty purchases than dealers.

“In fact, manufacturers have direct control over all of the factors that influence more than 60 percent of consumers.

“A dealer’s influence on the top factors is mostly limited to how they advertise and pitch a vehicle in the showroom. Where the dealership carries sway is with the other factors, such as its customer-service reputation and financial dealings,” it found.

The study concluded that the influences that “save money up front, at the pump, and in the long run” were the most likely to convince an owner to switch brands.




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