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Study reveals what people really want when buying a new car

A UK study has found that a motor vehicle's reputation for quality is the top factor in customers' minds when deciding which car to buy.
A UK study has found that a motor vehicle's reputation for quality is the top factor in customers' minds when deciding which car to buy.
Image: 123rf / michaeljung

A reputation for quality, stylish appearance and a positive previous ownership experience are the three top factors for car buyers when choosing a new model, according to an study of car buying behaviour.

The findings come from Autovia, a UK publisher of automotive insight and advice whose Driver Power research delves into the minds of up to 60,000 car owners a year. They form part of a comprehensive investigation into what factors motivate buyers to choose cars.

According to 1,245 motorists who bought their car within the past two years, their chosen brand’s reputation for quality topped a list of 17 factors  influencing their choice, followed by model styling and customer service.

This latest analysis reveals a challenge for manufacturers jockeying for position as the market transforms to meet zero carbon targets, because environmental credentials score low among factors influencing purchase choices.

Only the recommendations of family and friends scored lower than the environmental credentials of a brand. Reputation for quality was the top reason given by 61% of buyers, followed by model styling which was cited by 53% of drivers.

The importance of maintaining customer satisfaction over the long term is revealed by a previously happy experience with the brand ranking third, at 51%.

In a sign that innovative methods of financing cars more affordably have taken some of the heat off price worries, “good value for money” was a top reason for only 40% of buyers.

Autovia’s Driver Power research confirms the importance of a reputation for quality by also asking owners whether they avoided any brands and for what reasons.

Again, a poor reputation for quality was the top reason for avoiding specific brands, followed by a negative perception of the brand's overall image.

The “brand avoidance” element in the research also reveals that expectations of high service and repair costs are a deal breaker for many buyers. Driver Power will publish individual brand performance rankings on all of the most persuasive factors in the coming weeks.

“Two of the most unexpected findings in this latest research are that environmental credentials and the influence of family and friends score so low, suggesting that customers feel much more strongly about an enjoyable and stylish car ownership experience that they have discovered through their own research,” said Autovia editor-in-chief Steve Fowler.

“Dealers will also note that looking after the customer properly is key to retaining loyalty, with women in particular citing a previously good experience as the best reason to stick with a brand.”


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