Hyundai Hits #1 In Customer Loyalty, Toyota Slips To #3

March 16, 2010
2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

2010 Hyundai Genesis

2010 Hyundai Genesis

Looking to buy a Hyundai? You're not alone. Over the past year, the Korean automaker has become a darling of the press, and according to one new study, Hyundai owners are now the most brand-loyal kids on the block. That, in turn, has helped keep Hyundai resale values high, which has made owners even happier, which has boosted customer loyalty, and so on. In economic terms, that's called a virtuous circle.

In the last quarter of 2009, roughly 45.9% of current Hyundai owners shopping for new wheels were considering another Hyundai. That's a fairly respectable figure, but it has surged even higher during the past two months: as of February of 2010, Hyundai brand loyalty jumped 10.4 percentage points to rest at 56.3%. Toyota, on the other hand, slid 4.4 points, settling at a still-respectable 53.3%, while Honda saw a very modest .07% gain, bringing it to 55.8%. That puts Hyundai at the top of the brand-loyalty heap, former star-pupil Toyota in the #3 position, and Honda in its familiar Jan Brady spot.

This is probably to be expected, given the troubles Toyota has seen in recent months. It's also in keeping with KBB data from last month which suggested that non-Toyota owners were growing more loyal to their current brand of automobile, and that Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia were benefiting the most from the Toyota recall. (We're still a bit unsure as to why Honda hasn't fared better during the recall fiasco, although we know that Honda hasn't been as aggressive as Hyundai on the marketing front.)

Hyundai has also been buoyed by strong interest in models like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, the 2010 Hyundai Tuscon, and the 2010 Hyundai Genesis. Analyst James Bell says that if Hyundai plays its cards properly, it should be able to ride this wave of popularity for a while, but that the company does face competition in the U.S. from homegrown brands: "Hyundai's main challenge in the near future will likely come from domestic automakers like Ford and GM as they gear up for battle over buyers starting to look for a change from 'Camry-land.'"

Going hand-in-hand with this news of brand loyalty comes word that Hyundai values have jumped a full 2% from last month. While that may seem like a small number, the rest of the market averaged gains of .3%. Looks like 2010 may be Hyundai's to lose.

For additional details, check out the full press release below.

* * * * *

Kbb.com: Hyundai Owner Loyalty Speeds Past Honda, Replaces Toyota to Take No. 1 Spot

Hyundai Values Outperform Segment; Sonata Recently Breaks into Top 10 Most-Researched New Vehicles List

IRVINE, Calif., March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the latest Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com Market Intelligence data, brand loyalty for Hyundai recently surpassed that of Honda and Toyota, leading Hyundai's brand loyalty to the No. 1 spot among car shoppers on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. In addition, Hyundai values have been outperforming the car segment average, and the all-new Sonata recently emerged on the kbb.com Top 10 Most-Researched New Vehicles list.

When comparing February 2010 data to Q4 2009, Korean import automaker Hyundai has seen the greatest recent increase in loyalty, with Hyundai owners looking at new models within the brand increasing by 10.4 percentage points to 56.3 percent. This surge leads Hyundai to the top spot in brand loyalty on kbb.com for the first time in recent history, up from third place in Q4 2009.

In the same timeframe, Toyota fell from the No. 1 spot to third place and Honda continues to hold steady at second place. A fewer percentage of Toyota owners are looking at new models within the brand, down 4.4 percentage points to 53.3 percent, driving Toyota loyalty to third place. Meanwhile, holding steady in second place, Honda owners looking at new models within the brand have increased by 0.7 percentage points to 55.8 percent.

In addition, the Hyundai Sonata recently broke into kbb.com's Top 10 Most-Researched New Vehicles list for the first time. In February 2010, the Sonata was the fifth most-researched new car on kbb.com, with only perpetual 'Top 10 Most-Researched' mainstay Honda and Toyota models such as the Accord, Civic, Camry and CR-V ahead of it.

Furthermore, according to Kelley Blue Book Values data, throughout the month of February 2010 Hyundai outperformed the overall car segment average by a healthy margin. Hyundai values increased 2 percent month-over-month, relative to a 0.3 percent increase for the entire car segment.

"Hyundai is clearly benefiting from 'a perfect storm' - a result of introducing passionate new products like the 2011 Sonata and 2010 Tucson, while Honda's mainstream vehicles like the CR-V and Accord are a bit stale in the marketplace and Toyota is experiencing a huge consumer perception crisis," said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "To sustain this momentum, Hyundai should continue to promote its attractive new-vehicle lineup, solid warranty offer and strong price-points to new-car shoppers. Hyundai's main challenge in the near future will likely come from domestic automakers like Ford and GM as they gear up for battle over buyers starting to look for a change from 'Camry-land.'"

This Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data analysis examined site traffic to used-car trade-in pages and new-car pricing report pages on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, and compared loyalty data from Q4 2009 to February 1 - 28, 2010. The Kelley Blue Book Values data within this release represents month-over-month used-vehicle depreciation percentages.

[KBB]

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