What auto manufacturer will attract the orphaned brand loyalists?
It is an excellent question raised by Jim Gorzelany, a contributor to Forbes, just today. He credits R.L. Polk & Associates, that all such owners of any generation are most likely to gravitate to Ford cars and trucks, followed by Mercedes-Benz in second and well known brands such as Nissan, Honda, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Toyota taking the bulk of the remainder in all demographic groups.
Polk projects something like18 million vanished brand cars and light trucks are still around from 16 makes that are now pushing up daisies. These consumers represent “a golden opportunity for new vehicle manufacturers,” according to Tom Libby, Polk’s lead forecaster for North America. “These drivers are forced to shop for a new brand regardless of their satisfaction with their current car or light truck. Right now this pool of orphan owners is exceptionally large and offers a rare opportunity to those automakers and dealers willing to step up.”
That’s why brands are looking over former customer lists to find former buyers and offer special incentives to keep them in the fold. General Motors, for instance, is offering owners trading in a Saturn from as far back as 1999 $1,000 cash rebates towards certain models, including the Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Cruze and GMC Acadia.
Meanwhile, Ford and Lincoln dealers are writing off early termination of Mercury lease vehicles with no penalty, overlooking as many as six payments as an incentive to buy or lease a new car.
Gorzelany attributes to Edmunds data stating that up to 39 percent of Pontiac owners, 37 percent of Hummer owners and 31 percent of Saturn owners purchased another brand from GM's vehicles last year. GM is keeping as many Pontiac owners and more Saturn customers in the family now than back in 2007, when most of the orphan brands were still around.
Apparently the changes in the fuel market price have caused former Hummer owners to rethink their adoration. Loyalty to the brand is now far below the 61 percent mark set in 2007.
Though currently on top, GM is reported losing many of their former customers to other brands, a good example of how volatile and competitive the automotive market has become. Up to 60 percent of the people who bought GM products 10 years ago are crossing over to brands such as Toyota, Ford and Honda.