Large pickup buyers focus on brand origin, J.D. Power survey shows

Although the large pickup truck segment encompasses both domestic and import brands, vehicle brand origin continues to be a top reason new-vehicle buyers avoid certain large truck models, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Avoider Study released today.

The study, which examines the reasons consumers fail to consider particular models when shopping for a new vehicle, finds that nearly one-half (48%) of buyers of domestic-branded large pickup trucks avoid import models within the segment because they specifically do not want an import-branded truck. Conversely, 33 percent of import buyers report the same with regard to domestic large pickups. Domestic-branded truck buyers also report avoiding large pickup trucks from import brands primarily because they did not like the look or design (33%), and also believed the pickup was not rugged enough (20%).

However, very few buyers of domestic large pickup trucks question the reliability of the two import brands, with only 5 percent avoiding models for this reason. Conversely, reliability is one of the top reasons import large pickup buyers avoid a domestic brand, with 25 percent avoiding domestic models based on reliability concerns. The perception of poor reliability as a reason for avoidance can also have a long-term impact on a brand or model. For example, buyers may avoid a brand or model today due to reliability issues that occurred several years ago.

"With the fully redesigned Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra being launched for the 2007 model year, the large pickup truck segment is steadily being refreshed and diversified," said Steve Witten, executive director of marketing research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Making updates and improvements to vehicles can be critical in addressing buyer concerns, especially among buyers who shy away from models because of styling or reliability based on brand origin perceptions. These enhancements can go a long way toward improving buyer confidence and changing opinions."

The study also finds that across all vehicle segments, styling continues to be the top reason buyers avoid considering some models, with nearly 50 percent of all avoiders indicating that the look/design of the model was a reason for avoidance. Styling typically determines the buyer's first impression of a model, and if a buyer dislikes the styling, they generally will not pursue that model any further. Vehicle styling, reliability and high cost, respectively, represent the top three product reasons for avoidance.

The 2006 Avoider Study is based on responses from more than 39,000 owners who registered a new vehicle in May 2006.

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