In the current economy, brand loyalty has taken a back seat to concerns over fuel prices, safety recalls, available options and added competition for the automotive buyer.
While some of the industry's top players find themselves struggling, Hyundai has managed to preserve a loyal customer base. An aggressive marketing campaign along with product redesigns and innovations found in the highly successful 2011 Sonata and Elantra lines have helped to maintain their status in the standings.
For the second quarter of 2011, the standings stacked up like this: Hyundai's on top with 52.3 percent, Honda follows at 49.7 percent and Toyota drops to third at 47.7 percent. Ford comes in at fourth at 45.4 percent with Subaru rounding out the top five at 44.8 percent.
The only other brands that seem to be building loyalty are Korean automaker Kia and BMW’s trendy, innovative Mini line-up. Both are making headway in loyalty for similar reasons as Hyundai – stylish redesigns, additional models in their lineups, as well as effective marketing that strikes a chord with buyers.
"Hyundai's product renaissance is benefitting the company not just by attracting an all-new customer base, but by helping them to retain current loyal Hyundai owners, as well," said Arthur Henry, market intelligence manager for Kelley Blue Book. "This latest brand loyalty analysis from kbb.com is a testament to the power of attractive vehicle designs and intriguing marketing in the minds of in-market car shoppers as they consider their next vehicle."
Also of note is the trend in traditional luxury brands rebuilding their loyalty base.
Furthermore, several luxury brands, which have eroded in loyalty over the past few years, have now risen in loyalty for Q2 2011, as well. Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence sees prior luxury owners shifting back to the luxury brands they enjoyed when the economy was booming – a positive sign for Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW, all of which saw quarter-over-quarter increases for Q2 2011 versus Q1 2011, even though all remain down year-over-year.
Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence examines brand loyalty while consumers are still in the shopping phase. For this analysis, loyalty is defined as owners of the brand who are currently shopping the same brand for their next vehicle. This includes data from consumers who view a trade-in page or private party page in addition to a new-car page on kbb.com.