Two conflicting reports from the last couple of days have cast all kinds of confusion on what car buyers look for when shopping the major auto brands.
One story says car buyers don’t see any real differences in car companies, while another says car buyers are heavily influenced by their general feeling regarding a brand.
Yesterday, our man jgoods went into some great detail on one of those studies and what drives buyers toward, or away from, certain brands. I recommend you check out his story.
Both studies come from major, respected sources, and both make logical sense. But which is correct? Do buyers care about the brand of their cars or not?
Anybody in the market for a late-model car has a pretty good chance of avoiding a genuinely bad vehicle. Modern cars are safer and more efficient than ever and, even when not meticulously maintained, usually run strong for many years. A study by Consumer Reports suggests those improvements may have also led consumers to believe there are no real differences between the various vehicles offered by the world’s major automakers.
As long as a car has four tires, a steering wheel, some comfortable seats and doesn’t break down, what difference does it make what badge is plastered on the rear end?
As you might imagine, I have a hard time believing this logic. Cars have personalities, and a Toyota’s personality is different from a Kia’s. A BMW’s is in no way similar to an Acura’s. Just because each is safe and reliable doesn’t mean they all respond the same when driven or have the same reputation for performance.
Another study, this one by J.D. Power and Associates, supports a contrary view. It found that brand perception is among the major reasons many new-vehicle buyers don’t consider a certain brand.
That seems more obvious.
According to the J.D. Power study, 43 percent of people avoided a brand because of their perception of the brand’s quality and reliability issues, while just 38 percent based their decision not to consider a car on ratings and reviews.
That statement alone is why automakers spend millions on advertisements convincing the buying public of their superiority. The messages in ads are more trusted than the advice of reviewers. That’s pretty powerful stuff!
Maybe when it comes down to buying a new family sedan, there’s just not much difference anymore between the latest Fusion, Camry, Accord and Malibu. Look through CarGurus’ used listings, though, and you’ll likely see a different story.
What do you think—is there a difference between buying a Ford, a Toyota, a Honda and a Chevrolet? Or are they all pretty much the same these days?