Brand loyalty is a central element in the consumer culture that we’re all slaves to. There is a specific Korean company that makes most of the electronics I own, an American distiller that I trust with my alcohol, and I have never purchased any toilet paper other than the one that has the dog for a mascot. When I buy another motorcycle, I already know what it’s going to be — and I can say the same thing about jeans, waffles, or boots.
As automotive enthusiasts, most of us are informed enough to have our preferences without succumbing to a blind faith in any singular model or brand. That said, the rest of the population isn’t made up of car devotees. Some people will happily return to a familiar dealership, buy a familiar truck, drive their new purchase home, and immediately apply a decal of Calvin urinating on the emblem of a rival brand.
Fortunately, it’s not always about automotive zealotry. Often, people return to a particular model or manufacturer because it treated them right. As it turns out, they’ve been awarding trophies based on this phenomenon for two decades. Last night, business and marketing research provider IHS Markit presented the 21st annual Automotive Loyalty Awards in Detroit.
So, where do the strongest automotive loyalties lie?
Of the thirty winners, General Motors took the big prize with Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer. However, Ford achieved the highest overall loyalty rate of all makes during the 2016 model year, winning the Overall Loyalty to Make award. When that support was broken down along ethnic lines, Ford showed a particularly strong devotion among African-American consumers.
Asian customers returned to Mercedes-Benz products the most, while Hispanic buyers were most loyal to Toyota.
Tesla was recognized for bringing in the most committed consumers in 2016, while Cadillac saw the largest influx of “super loyalists” — those willing to repurchase a vehicle from their chosen brand 76 percent of the time.
As for individual models, it should be no surprise that Ford’s F-Series is a popular repeat buy for those seeking a heavy-duty pickup, while Ram’s 1500 ended up being the more popular half-ton. Also unsurprising to see on the list of consumer darlings was Jeep’s Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.
The Chrysler Town & Country spent its final year on Earth beloved and believed-in by minivan loyalists.
True believers in luxury were more likely than not to repurchase their Mercedes-Benz GLS or G-Class. The same was true for sedan enthusiasts that opted for an S-Class. Germany dominated the sports car faithful as well — Volkswagen’s GTI and the Porsche 911 both offered a superior rate of customer retention.
In the bland world of family cars, Honda’s Accord took the midsize car category and Subaru’s Outback was the popular crossover pick.
IHS Markit’s analysis revealed that, with 17.5 million new vehicle registrations for the 2016 model year, nearly 53 percent of all customers returned to purchase a vehicle from the brand they already owned — representing a record loyalty rate and 1.3 percent increase from the 2015 model year.