Subaru of America says they are more than a car company and the latest J.D. Power Brand Loyalty Study shows why the automaker could be right. They make the 2020 Forester, Outback, Crosstrek SUVs that are popular because of their all-wheel-drive, utility, fuel mileage and safety ratings. But they keep customers coming back with something else.
According to the 2020 J.D. Power study, Subaru is #1 in brand loyalty among all mainstream automakers scoring a 60.5 percent loyalty rate. Subaru beats Toyota (60.3 percent) and Honda (58.7) and have done it two years in-a-row. They are also highest overall in the automotive industry beating luxury brands Lexus (48 percent), Mercedes-Benz (47.8), Porsche (44.9), and Audi (43.4).
Why is the Subaru brand highest in customer retention among all automakers? When it comes to brand loyalty, it goes beyond offering no-interest financing or 63-month terms.
Subaru knows who its customers are and how to connect with them. For Subaru, more than a car company means the feeling customers get when they drive the car. They know the all-wheel-drive Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek will get them to their destination safely. Brand loyalty didn’t just start two years ago for Subaru.
The small Japanese automaker created a niche market with their all-wheel-drive multi-purpose vehicles when they made the decision to convert their entire lineup to all-wheel-drive in 1996. The Forester, Outback, WRX and STI and now the Crosstrek, have developed an almost cult following over the past 25 years. Their owners hold on to their vehicles and return to the brand when they are ready for a new one.
Subaru of America has seen its customer loyalty leap forward in the past decade as the brand has focused on the current “Love” campaign. The Camden, N.J. automaker learned how to tap into their already loyal fan base. They connect emotionally to a younger generation with active lifestyles, dog lovers, and the LGBTQ community.
They also connect with customers by giving to causes they care about. Subaru formed partnerships with organizations like the National Park Service to clean up the environment. Subaru’s partnership with ASPCA has affected the lives of over 10,000 animals, and they have the “Make a Dogs Day” campaign. They partner with Make-A-Wish, Adopt A Classroom, Center for Pet Safety, Meals on Wheels, and other charitable organizations customers identify with. Subaru recently donated 50 million meals to Feeding America food banks.
Why do customers return to buy a 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek? The Japanese automaker created a brand that has become a lifestyle choice, not a car company. Subaru has done a masterful job of creating a brand identity that resonates with consumers that goes beyond the retailer's showrooms. Tom Doll, Subaru of America CEO, recently told Bloomberg that sales took off when they “stopped acting like a car company.”
Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: Timmons Subaru