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2013 Avoider Study Results

By Jeff Youngs, January 17, 2013
The current conventional wisdom that "No manufacturer makes a bad car anymore" may not be absolutely true, but it is far closer to being generally true than it was a generation or two ago. Supporting that assertion is the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Avoider Study,SM which finds that new-vehicle shoppers continue to look at more models than in the past prior to making a purchase decision. According to the study, which is based on responses from approximately 31,000 owners who registered a new vehicle in May 2012, new-vehicle shoppers now consider an average of 3.3 vehicles, compared with 3.1 in 2012, and 2.9 in 2010. Additionally, only 21% of these shoppers bought their vehicle without cross-shopping other models, compared with 26% in 2012 and 29% in 2010.

The 2013 Avoider Study was fielded between August and October 2012. Now in its 10th year, the study examines the reasons why consumers avoid--or don't consider at all--particular models when shopping for a new vehicle.

According to the 2013 study, 17% of shoppers avoid a model due to its reputation for reliability, compared with 19% in the 2012 study and 21% in the 2009 study. Not only has the perception of reliability and dependability improved, but also the actual quality of vehicles has improved, as the average number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) after three years of ownership has decreased to 132 PP100 in 2012 from 170 PP100 in 2009.

"Improved actual and perceived reliability has leveled the playing field, allowing many manufacturers to be considered among new-vehicle shoppers that may not have been considered in the past," said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates. "Factors such as gas mileage, styling and comfort play an important role in the decision-making process. The study's findings suggest that marketing a brand image is just as important as building reliable vehicles."

While the reasons for not considering a certain model vary greatly among new-vehicle shoppers, style and image are among the most-frequently cited reasons. One-third (33%) of shoppers avoid a model because they dislike its exterior look or design, while 19% of shoppers eliminate a model from consideration because of its interior look or design. Image is cited as a reason for avoidance by 17% of shoppers.

"The impact that design and brand image have on new-vehicle shoppers is substantial," said Osborn. "Shoppers are concerned about what the vehicle says about them as people and how it can express their individual tastes, just as much as it is about being reliable or holding its value throughout the tenure of ownership."

This year, 15% of new-vehicle shoppers cite gas mileage as the primary reason for purchasing a particular model, a similar number to the 2012 study. Shoppers younger than 25 years old are more likely to cite gas mileage as their primary reason for avoidance. Among shoppers who avoid hybrid or electric vehicles, 36% say they do so because of the cost of the vehicle, while 25% say styling is their primary reason for avoiding these models. Among shoppers who did purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle, 95% say they did so due to gas mileage, while 62% indicate their purchase decision was due to environmental impact.

"Hybrid and electric vehicle owners want to get the most out of a gallon of gas and minimize the environmental impact, even if that means spending more money to purchase the vehicle," said Osborn.

Consumer Tips for a Satisfying New-Vehicle Shopping Experience

J.D. Power and Associates offers the following tips to consumers shopping for a new vehicle:

  • Determine what you want in terms of vehicle type, features, cost, styling, image, and function before you start shopping. Consider several different brands that offer the type of vehicle you seek.
  • Use the Web to research differences in gas mileage, price, and available features, as well as such specifics as horsepower, torque, dimensions, and trunk/pickup bed space.
  • Think outside the box. Manufacturers sometimes make dramatic changes in models from one year to another, or introduce a new model that is different from their usual offering.

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