Roy Morgan's annual survey puts ute-maker ahead of brands such as Bunnings, Optus and Qantas. Skoda and Suzuki the other auto standouts.
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A car manufacturer took out Roy Morgan’s ‘Best of the Best’ trophy in its annual Australian Customer Satisfaction Award earlier this week, given to the company with the highest rating across all market categories.

This winner was… Isuzu Ute (IUA), which managed a 96.1 per cent satisfaction score, nudging it ahead of supermarket Foodland (93.5 per cent), bottle shop Dan Murphy’s (93.3 per cent), the Heritage Bank (92.9 per cent), and insurer RACT (92.3 per cent).

Other top performers across the 32-category field included Commonwealth Bank (the ‘major’ bank award), Autobarn, Kmart, Ikea, Bunnings, Rebel Sport, Qantas, Optus and Red Energy.

The Isuzu Ute Australia rating is also a smidgen higher than the overall winner from 2017, which remarkably enough was also a car brand - luxury player Lexus. Given how much new cars cost, it seems only right car buyers are treated properly by franchise dealers and the car makers alike.

According to the market research firm, its Customer Satisfaction ratings are derived from a single source survey of approximately 50,000 Australians collected in-person. It’s billed as the “world’s most comprehensive ongoing single source survey” and is re-done each year.

It covers 32 categories overall that you can note here. Of course take that 50,000 number with a grain of salt, since obviously only a percentage of them had much to do with any of the category-winning brands.

However, talking with a number of industry stakeholders, it’s widely accepted the award is a relatively market-reflective group of people. For one thing, businesses cannot enter themselves in the awards, and there is no fee to be in the running. You’re in it whether you like it or not.

Roy Morgan’s CEO Michele Levine said IUA “has satisfied customers on an unprecedented level in 2018… to ‘streak the field as ‘Best of the Best’, and cited the difficulty in attaining high ratings in the era of social media.

“Isuzu Ute’s average customer satisfaction is an improvement on the stunning performance of car manufacturer Lexus a year ago,” she said.

Breaking it down a little further, IUA also took out six consecutive monthly wins from July to December, and second place from January through May. The other car brands that topped the segment when IUA did not were Skoda (January to April) and Suzuki (May and June). Traditionally, Mazda has also fared well.

For market context, IUA outsold these two closest contenders and had a tenth successive growth year in 2018. It sold 27,640 units, up 7.1 per cent, despite only having two models: the D-Max ute and the MU-X SUV spun off the same chassis. It finished 13th overall.

The D-Max managed 18,550 sales, giving it the edge over the Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok. The MU-X grew 12 per cent to 9090 sales, well ahead of its main rivals the Ford Everest, Holden Trailblazer, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Toyota Fortuner.

“The Australian market is unique, with over seventy automotive brands bidding for a spot in customers’ garages nationwide,” IUA managing director Hiro Kuramoto said.

“However, the sentiment towards utes and SUVs has never been stronger and are the leading segments within the market — the exact segments the D-MAX and MU-X sit — and in 2018 we witnessed our strongest result in 10 years.”