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2016 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study: Generational Preferences Affect Tire Satisfaction Rates

2016 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study: Generational Preferences Affect Tire Satisfaction Rates

By Joseph Dobrian, March 24, 2016
Younger consumers are more open to the possibility of replacing their vehicles’ tires with lesser known brands than are older customers, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study.SM The larger, more established brands, such as BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Michelin still are most likely to be considered by consumers of all generations. But consumers of Gen X (those born 1965-1976) and Gen Y (1977-1994) are more likely to consider smaller or newer brands of replacement tires than are Boomers (1946-1964) and Pre-Boomer (before 1946).

The study measures tire owner satisfaction in four vehicle segments: luxury, passenger car, performance sport, and truck/utility. It measures satisfaction across four measures: tire wear; tire ride; tire appearance; and tire traction/handling. Study results and rankings are based solely on owner experiences with their tires after 2 years of vehicle ownership.

“Gen X and Gen Y are more receptive to the lesser known brands in large part because those manufacturers have focused their marketing efforts on younger consumers,” said Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J.D. Power. “These consumers are increasingly looking at the value proposition, not just the cost or brand of the tire; if the perceived value is there, they’re willing to spend more or consider alternative brands.”

Long Use Lowers Satisfaction
A key finding of the study is that customer satisfaction with tires tends to decline with prolonged use. Satisfaction averages 702 (on a 1,000-point scale) within the first 5,000 miles of use, drops to 693 within the first 15,000 miles, and falls to 648 after 25,000 miles. After that, customer satisfaction stays fairly constant until the tire needs replacing.

Customer satisfaction with tire traction in poor weather conditions after 1 year of ownership remains unchanged vs. last year: 6.9 on a 10-point scale. After 2 years of ownership, satisfaction with tire traction is 6.6, up slightly from 6.5 in 2015.

Only 25% of customers who experience a wet traction problem with their tires say they “definitely will” or “probably will” recommend their tire brand to others, compared with 69% of those who have not experienced this problem.

Brand loyalty is lower among younger consumers: 70% of Gen X and 72% of Gen Y owners switched tire brands when they replaced two or more tires, compared with 59% of Boomers and 61% of Pre-Boomers. Combined, Gen Y and Gen X account for 53% of 2015’s new-vehicle retail tire sales, up from 50% in 2014.

Overall tire satisfaction after 2 years of ownership is highest among Gen Y and Pre-Boomer generations. Satisfaction among Gen Y owners in the Premium segment and in the Non-Premium segment is 708 and 674, respectively, while it is 704 among Pre-Boomers in the Premium segment and 672 in the Non-Premium segment. Average satisfaction scores among Gen X owners are 692 for Premium tires and 655 for Non-Premium tires.

Michelin Ranks Highest in Three of Four Tire Segments
Michelin earns highest customer satisfaction scores in three of the four tire segments: luxury (742), passenger car (724), and truck/utility (698). Pirelli ranks highest in the performance sport segment (724).

Pirelli ranks second in the luxury segment (705), passenger car segment (689), and truck/utility segment (680). Goodyear ranks third in the passenger car segment (684), and BFGoodrich ranks third in the truck/utility segment (663). In the performance sport segment, Michelin ranks second (718) and Goodyear third (705).

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:

  • Thoroughly research which tire brands and types are best suited to your particular vehicle.
  • Ask owners of vehicles similar to yours about their experiences with various tire brands.
  • Ask your mechanic about lesser known tire brands with which you might be unfamiliar.
  • When choosing replacement tires, consider how long you’re likely to keep the vehicle.

About the Study
The 2016 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 31,977 original owners of 2014 or 2015 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded in October through December 2015.

Additional Research:

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