Automaker Reputation, Vehicle Safety Remain Key Purchase Influencers

The news reports about the General Motors recall have been widespread and ongoing this spring. The automaker has recalled 2.6 million vehicles. Dealers are prepared to replace the faulty ignition switch which was linked to several accidents and deaths going back to at least 2004. GM dealers might be worried about how this incident will impact their future sales. In a new study, Kelley Blue Book analysts find that GM's reputation remains intact.

New-​car shoppers say the following brands come to mind when they begin to contemplate what they are going to buy:

  •  Toyota 48%
  • General Motors 40%
  • Chevrolet 38%
  • Ford 11%
  • GMC 9%
  • Honda 8%
  • Chrysler 7%

With GM near the top of this list, KBB’s research suggests that only about 5% of new-​vehicle shoppers may be skipping over Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC or Buick because of the recall.  Arthur Henry, KBB analyst says, "Shoppers are willing to forgive, but not forget." Henry believes consumers are looking at GM brands because of  “deals that may be offered or because none of the current recalled vehicles are a part of manufacturer's current product portfolio."

Ad-​ology Research, in its soon-​to-​be-​released 2014 AudienceSCAN report, finds that a number of factors influence consumers who are seeking to buy a new vehicle. Purchase price (81.3%) and gas mileage (67.6%) are the top very important factors. After that, consumers pay attention to the kinds of details that have surfaced about GM. For example, vehicle safety/​crash test ratings (59.6%) and vehicle service reliability ratings (59.2%) are the next most very important factors influencing purchase. In addition, automaker reputation is very important to 58.8% of new-​vehicle purchasers.

Here’s where the steps taken by GM play an important role. The firm’s new CEO very publicly and continuously offered her heartfelt apology, promised to do the right thing by repairing the defect, and promised to hold her company to the highest level of quality going forward. These commitments serve to reinforce the reputation GM wants to maintain. Clearly, U.S. vehicle shoppers heard Mary Barra’s promise and have put their trust in her and in GM.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to Ad-​ology PRO. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.