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Toyota owners stay loyal

Movers and shakers: Customer brand loyalty for Australia's top motor companies.

Bad news from the US fails to dent Toyota buyer intentions in Australia

General News logo22 Jun 2010

TOYOTA has escaped brand loyalty erosion among its Australian owners in the wake of the recall scandal that plagued the company in the United States.

Earlier this year, the world’s biggest car-maker recalled more than eight million vehicles globally to fix sticking accelerators and hybrid braking problems, but the latter was the only issue to affect Australia, where a total of just 2378 Prius cars were recalled in February.

Now, in a key indicator that Toyota Australia quarantined its reputation in Australia while the US media and US Congress went to war against the company, customer loyalty research by Roy Morgan shows Toyota with the third-best owner loyalty in the country.

The research shows that in March this year, at the height of the negative publicity flowing out of America, which included cartoons in Australian newspapers depicting Toyotas as hearses, 61 per cent of Toyota owners in Australia said they would buy another Toyota in the next four years.

This also translates into Toyota sales support so far this year, with Toyota holding its own by increasing sales broadly in line with the growth of the market.

At the same time, Hyundai sales have surged by 55.5 per cent, but the rapidly growing Korean brand has made few inroads in the coveted area of brand loyalty, in which it continues to trail Toyota – and all mainstream vehicle brands except Mitsubishi – by a significant margin.

Toyota owner loyalty was third behind Subaru with 63.5 per cent of Subaru owners saying their next car will be another Subaru, and Volkswagen, which has 62 per cent of its owners saying they will buy a VW again next time.

 center imageFrom top: Toyota HiLux Xtra Cab, Subaru Outback, VW Golf GTI.

The Roy Morgan Single Source survey between March 2005 and March 2010 is based on 1000 interviews each weekend culminating in 50,000 interviews over 12 months across a wide range of consumer views.

The car data, contained in the Roy Morgan Automotive Currency Report, comes from more than 37,800 people who said they would buy a new car in the next four years. The charts are based on a 12-month moving average, so any movement up or down is a significant trend.

Here is how the main players are faring: Subaru:The figures confirm that Subaru has developed a remarkably strong affinity with its owners, but some of the sheen has been lost over the past five years. During 2005 surveys, Subaru had as many as 73 per cent of its owners saying they would buy another Subaru.

The slide of 10 percentage points to 63.5 per cent today suggests the company will have to marshal increased marketing resources to make up for the owners who are no longer automatically presenting themselves at Subaru dealerships.

Volkswagen:Volkswagen owner support swung wildly between 50 per cent and 65 per cent in the years 2005 to 2007. Since 2008 it has made steady gains from 50 per cent to 62 per cent by March 2010. VW now has the second most loyal owners.

Toyota:Probably the most consistent performer, Toyota has hovered around the 60 per cent customer loyalty mark for the past five years. An uplift in late 2009 flattened off in the first quarter of 2010 as possibly the only evidence that recalls may have been in the back of some buyers’ minds.

Mazda:About 48 per cent of Mazda owners said they would buy another Mazda in 2005 and that had run up to 58 per cent by late last year. Loyalty has since eased to about 55 per cent this year.

Honda:Honda once enjoyed 64 per cent loyalty in 2006 but has seen a steep decline in the past 12 months and now sits at 52 per cent. It is another candidate for finding a way to retrieve what was a strong owner loyalty position.

Holden:With 57 per cent loyalty in 2005, Holden has been on a steady long-term decline over the past five years, although the decline seems to have been arrested since mid-2008. It is now at 46 per cent.

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