The four brands that stand out for car-brand perception—Ford, Toyota, Honda, and Chevrolet—also lead in purchase intent and brand loyalty.
This is what we learned after our National Research Center conducted a random, nationwide telephone survey of 2,034 adults from Dec. 6-16, 2012, and collected survey data from 1,764 adults in households that had at least one car.
Clearly, these brands have discovered the elusive formula to drive sales. Based on our latest Car Brand Perception Survey, they are highly regarded as leading in areas that matter most to consumers: quality, safety, value, and performance. And this perception is held not only among general shoppers, but also owners.
As the industry knows, it is far cheaper to retain a customer than gain a new one. Based our new survey data, Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet, and Honda command a high brand loyalty rate based on a high likelihood that its customers will be back.
In fact, Toyota's loyalty climbed six percentage points over last year, perhaps showing that the company is regaining favor after putting the unintended acceleration scare and related recalls of a couple years ago behind it. Toyota's loyalty is now at 66 percent, based on the likelihood of current owners to buy another. Ford loyalty is 59 percent, Honda is 56 percent, and Chevrolet is 54 percent.
Looking at what car owners told our National Research Center, these brands clearly have a significant advantage on purchase intent. But other brands are in play, with some movement throughout the survey.
Dodge stands out this year for its comeback. As we saw in our brand perception analysis, Dodge has ascended this year by multiple measures, and here we see it as the most improved brand in likelihood of purchase.
Looking deeper in the survey, we didn't find many dramatic differences between the brands that men and women preferred. However, when it comes to buying a new car, we found that men are more likely to focus on Chevrolet than women. Also, those consumers living in the Midwest are at least 6 percentage points more likely to purchase a Chevrolet than the next most-interested region, showing the most dramatic regional preference. This may reflect a product mix heavy with trucks and muscle cars, a male-centric advertising and motorsports emphasis, and proximity of major factories. Interest in the Ford brand is quite evenly spread across the country. On the other hand, women show a stronger preference for Toyota than men; the brand is also notably more popular in the western and northeastern regions.
Likely to purchase
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Read our complete story on the 2013 Car Brand Perception Survey to see how the brands measured up in the seven categories, how they compare against last year's results, and the best and worst in overall scores.