Car Owners Have Deflated Happiness with Run-Flats

Run-​flat tires are letting the Air Out of Customer Satisfaction. Customers with run-​flat tires are less satisfied overall and replace tires more frequently in the first two years of ownership than do those with non-​run-​flat tires, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study.

The study measures tire owner satisfaction in 4 vehicle segments: luxury, passenger car, performance sport and truck/​utility. Satisfaction is examined in four factors: tire wear; tire ride; tire appearance; and tire traction/​handling. Rankings are based on owner experiences with their tires after 2 years of vehicle ownership.

The study finds that overall satisfaction among owners of run-​flat tires lags that of owners of non-​run-​flat tires across the luxury, passenger car and performance sport segments, a pattern consistent with previous iterations of the study. The difference is most pronounced in the performance sport segment, where satisfaction with non-​run-​flat tires averages 685 points on a 1,000-point scale and satisfaction with run-​flat tires averages 612. In the luxury segment, satisfaction with run-​flat tires is 24 points lower than with non-​run-​flat tires (688 vs. 712, respectively).

In all three of the rank-​eligible segments, the largest gaps in satisfaction are in tire ride and tire wear.

‰ÛÏThe use of run-​flat tires is likely to increase as automakers continue to view them as a viable option for improving fuel efficiency by eliminating the need for a spare tire, thereby reducing the weight,‰Û said Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J.D. Power. ‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs vital that auto and tire manufacturers address the ride and wear issues, which are still not meeting customer expectations. Customers expect that run-​flat tires won‰Ûªt compromise tread life or the ability to provide a quiet and comfortable ride.‰Û

Owners with run-​flat tires also replace tires more frequently in the first two years of ownership than do non-​run-​flat customers. While the replacement rate for run-​flat tires owners is slightly higher in the first year of ownership (10% vs. 7%, respectively), the discrepancy becomes more pronounced in the second year of ownership, when 27% of run-​flat tire owners replaced at least one tire, compared with 16% of non-​run-​flat tire owners.

‰ÛÏWhile tire manufacturers have made improvements in addressing dealers‰Ûª reluctance to repair run-​flat tires in the same way they would non-​run-​flat tires, customers with run-​flat tires are still replacing them at a much higher rate,‰Û said Gruber. ‰ÛÏManufacturers need to continue making progress in this area in order to increase satisfaction and loyalty among their run-​flat tire customers."

Key Findings

  • Tire brand image influences customer satisfaction with the product. Manufacturers that convey an image of product value and environmental responsibility positively influence overall customer satisfaction. However, a customer‰Ûªs image of the brand can erode over time if the product ultimately fails to meet their performance expectations. Projecting the right image for the brand is crucial, as 51% of customers who intend to purchase new tires cite brand reputation as a criterion for purchase, the highest among all purchase criteria.
  • For owners who have replaced one or more of their original equipment tires within the past 18 months, the most commonly cited criterion when selecting their new tires is that they match the other tires already on the vehicle. This is true for both purchase (32%) and lease (48%) customers. The second most frequently cited criterion is a recommendation from a sales or service person, cited by 11% of customers. Past experience with a tire brand and the advice from sales and service personnel are also very influential considerations when purchasing tires.
  • Among generational groups, Gen Y customers rely more heavily on their family and friends as a source of information for which replacement tire brand to purchase than do the older generations.

Knowing more about luxury car owners could help tire marketers reach them better and provide opportunities to improve customer satisfaction. AudienceSCAN results show that 24% of luxury car owners are between the ages of 25 and 34. Their desire for impressive cars carries over to their love of stylish clothing: 33% of this audience enjoys fashion. This crowd is 129% more likely than average crowds to respond to ads they see in movie theaters. Note that 24% of luxury car owners plan to purchase new tires in the next 12 months.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.