The Recession’s Influence on Brand Loyalty

Research firm R.L. Polk and Co. states that the longer a driver hangs onto a car, the more likely they are to switch to a different brand on their next one. According to Polk, about 46% of drivers who own a new car for three years will buy from the same brand, but after nine years that drops to 39.8%.

It is not a surprise that the recession is the cause of this drop. Polk says that new-car shoppers keep their cars for an average of six years, which used to be four years before the recession. Shuttered lease programs that took place during the recession is a big part in the drop, but those programs are on the mend.

Even though there is a threat of automakers losing customers, there comes the opportunity of them gain new ones. Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle told Automotive News he’s thrilled to get the chance of getting new shoppers into Ford showrooms. At the same time, GM announced new initiatives last week to boost loyalty rates, citing Toyota as the industry’s top retainer. Toyota’s complimentary maintenance program brings shoppers back to the dealerships (rather than their local mechanic) for service appointments, which the automaker says can double the chance that those owners will stay with the brand.