Low vehicle inventory actually contributed to high brand loyalty.
Keep customers happy and they'll keep coming back for more. It's a business tactic that is no less effective in the automotive industry, and now we know which automakers are doing it best based on the results of the 2022 US Automotive Brand Loyalty Study by J.D. Power.
In the 2021 version of the study, Lexus led premium brands and Subaru topped the list for mass-market brands, but what was especially interesting then was how the pandemic actually had a positive effect on brand loyalty. This year, the issues of low vehicle inventory and supply chain disruptions had a similar effect, with many brands doing a great job of retaining customers in spite of these challenges.
"The issue of tight supply chain and lower-than-normal production could have been quite disruptive to loyalty, but the highest-ranking brands excelled by staying focused on keeping owners in the brand," said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data & analytics at J.D. Power. Jominy explained that there are many ways to keep customers loyal, be it the launch of new models or the promise of high residual values.
In this year's study, J.D. Power ranked the brands with the highest loyalty in the following categories: premium car, premium SUV, mass market car, mass market SUV, and truck.
Among premium cars, Porsche led the way with a 57.4% loyalty rate, followed by Genesis at 54.6%. Last year, Porsche came in second just behind Lexus. Based on this non-SUV category, it's safe to assume that many 911, Panamera, Taycan, and 718 customers are coming back for more.
For premium SUVs, BMW emerges as the winner with a 58.6% loyalty rate, followed by Lexus at 56.4%. The popular X3 and X5 have obviously contributed to this result, but BMW sells five other SUVs that are all also competitive. Lexus has always had a loyal fan base, and this remains the case for 2022.
Toyota was not only ranked first for mass market car brands (62.2% loyalty rate) but also for mass market SUVs (63.6%). The Japanese marque was followed by Kia (54.1%) and Subaru (62.6%) in those respective categories. Considering that Toyota had the top-selling crossover (RAV4) and sedan (Camry) in the United States last year, perhaps this result is not a great surprise.
Finally, Ford was the winner in the truck category with a loyalty rate of 63.8%, the highest loyalty rate in the study. Surprisingly, Toyota was the next best here at 58.7%, not Chevrolet or Ram. With a new F-250 Super Duty here, it's hard to see the Blue Oval losing its grip in this category.
If Jominy's comments are anything to go by, next year's loyalty study could see very different results than those of 2021 and 2022. "Once the industry gets past the supply chain disruptions, another challenge - the EV race - is about to emerge and is likely shake up the brand loyalty status quo. There is an element of risk to brand loyalty that could erode for those sitting on the sidelines or not moving quickly enough."