How loyal are customers buying the 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, and 2022 Crosstrek? Subaru of America has enjoyed one of the highest customer loyalty rates, but things have changed in the last three years. Here is why Subaru has slipped again in brand loyalty in the latest S&P Global Mobility study.
In a live podcast this week, S&P Global Mobility Loyalty Principal Tom Libby told listeners that Subaru had slipped again in customer loyalty. Among mainstream car brands, the brand loyalty change from March 2021 to March 2022 saw Subaru drop 3.5 percent, the third most of any automaker.
photo credit: S&P Global Mobility
The study says that nearly all car brands dropped in loyalty, and the mainstream average is 2.6 percent. Chevrolet slipped the most with a 7.0 percent drop in customer loyalty, RAM dropped 3.7 percent, and Subaru of America fell 3.4 percent. GMC, Chrysler, Ford, and Honda were also below the average in customer loyalty.
Loyalty rates are directly affected by inventory
Libby says brand loyalty is affected most by the lack of new vehicle inventory when a customer is looking for a new car. Why is Subaru slipping? It's due to low new Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek inventory due to the global microchip shortages. Return customers want to buy a new all-wheel-drive Subaru, but there are few or no new models on retailers' lots.
It's not just Subaru, as all automakers struggle to produce new cars for their customers. But Subaru was hit the hardest because they kept a lean inventory before supply chain issues created tighter inventory.
What happens when an automaker has very few new cars to sell?
Many Forester and Outback customers are return buyers trading in a Subaru vehicle. With few new models to sell, many customers order a new model and wait for four or five months. Some Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek customers defect to other brands with Subaru of America's lack of new models.
Subaru has seen another challenging year, and it's not getting better. Subaru has now seen twelve straight months of sales decline. When the June report comes out next week, it will be thirteen. But some Subaru customers who need a new vehicle now are defecting to other brands because they have more new cars to sell.
There is some good news
The good news is that Subaru Corporation reported a second consecutive month of production increase at its Japan plant, where they manufacture the 2022 Forester compact SUV and Crosstrek subcompact SUV. Subaru announced production was up 52.6 percent in April and saw a 6.5 percent increase in May.
Subaru says they expect a twenty-eight percent increase in sales next year because of improved inventory. When new model levels improve, Subaru customers will return and buy the refreshed 2022 Subaru Forester, 2023 Crosstrek, and refreshed 2023 Outback. Stay tuned.
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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. Check out 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: Subaru