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2016 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study: Seats Critical to Vehicle Experience, Customer Loyalty

2016 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study: Seats Critical to Vehicle Experience, Customer Loyalty

By Joseph Dobrian, August 26, 2016
A vehicle’s seats can go a long way toward enhancing the customer experience as well as customer loyalty, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.SM The study, which provides automotive manufacturers and suppliers with quality and satisfaction information related to seating systems, asks new-vehicle owners to rate the quality of their vehicle’s seats and seat belts with respect to whether they have experienced defects/malfunctions or design problems during the first 90 days of ownership.

Among new-vehicle owners, 18% indicate they avoided a vehicle for purchase because of its interior design. The most often cited reason for avoiding a vehicle based on its interior is that it was “too bland or boring.” Seating, according to the study, is a considerable factor in assessing a vehicle’s interior.

“Consumers are focusing more attention on the interior design and comfort, and the seats are a critical element of the vehicle’s interior,” said Brent Gruber, senior director, global automotive division at J.D. Power. “Automakers and suppliers are responding by adding content and materials to the seats that create a sense of luxury and enhance the look and feel of the seating. Interior styling is an important consideration for consumers when shopping for a new vehicle.

“Seats have always been an important styling element and touch point in the vehicle, but that importance is increasing as automakers try to differentiate their models in a competitive market. We expect that will continue as the industry moves toward autonomous vehicles and the seat becomes an integrated part of the evolving vehicle environment.”

Features and Comfort Matter
Across the industry, automotive suppliers are adding technology and upgrading materials to deliver more comfortable and luxurious seats. Including features such as leather and heated and ventilated/cooled seats boosts satisfaction, partly for practical reasons but also because of the emotional factor: the enhancement of owners’ sense of luxury with their vehicle. For example, among owners of mass market vehicles, the addition of ventilated seats increases overall seat satisfaction by 0.53 points (on a 10-point scale), on average, and lifts the perception of the vehicle’s luxuriousness by 0.87 points (on a 7-point scale).

Additionally, seat satisfaction has an impact on intended vehicle loyalty. Among owners who rate their overall seat satisfaction 10 (on a 10-point scale), 68% say they “definitely will” repurchase the same vehicle make again. When satisfaction slips to 9, intended loyalty drops to 45%, while only 32% of owners who rate their seat satisfaction 7 intend to purchase the same vehicle make again.

Seat Supplier Quality Rankings
Among seat suppliers, Johnson Controls, Inc. receives three segment awards for seat quality. Lear Corporation receives two awards, while Delta Kogyo Co., Ltd., Toyota Boshoku Corporation, and TS Tech Co., Ltd. receive one award each.

Johnson Controls, Inc. ranks highest in the Mass Market Compact SUV/MPV segment for the Jeep Compass; the Mass Market Midsize/Large Car segment for the Toyota Camry[1]; and the Mass Market Truck/Van segment for the Ford F-Series Super Duty (tie).

Lear Corporation ranks highest in the Luxury Car segment for the Porsche Cayman and the Mass Market Truck/Van segment for the Chevrolet Silverado (tie).

Delta Kogyo Co., Ltd. ranks highest in the Mass Market Compact Car segment for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Toyota Boshoku Corporation ranks highest in the Mass Market Midsize/Large SUV segment for the Toyota 4Runner. TS Tech Co., Ltd. ranks highest in the Luxury SUV segment for the Acura RDX.

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
  • Make sure there’s not a disconnect between the appearance of a vehicle’s seats and their comfort and practicality. Some seats aren’t as nice as they look, and vice versa.
  • Ask yourself how you intend to use the car. If you’re a spirited driver, bolstered “sport seats” might be a good investment. If you take a lot of long trips, be sure the seats have strong, adjustable lumbar support.
  • Consider your climate. Heated/Ventilated seats may not be worth the money if you live in a temperate area, but they’re valuable if you deal with hot summers and cold winters.
  • When considering various seating options, think about who else will be riding with you on a regular basis and what their preferences/needs might be.

About the Study
The 2016 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2017 model-year cars and light trucks. The study was fielded from February through May 2016.

Additional Research:

[1]Johnson Controls, Inc., award is for its seats supplied for Toyota Camry assembled at the Georgetown, Ky., plant.

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