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New C Space Study: What Draws People to an Automotive Brand?

Arjun Chawla is an Associate Director at C Space and co-author of the CQ automotive report, What drives customers to certain automotive brands?

What influences people to choose one automotive brand over another? Is it price? Extended warranties? Slick design? State-of-the-art gadgetry? Or something else entirely that encompasses all of the above, and more?

According to a new C Space study that examines the auto industry from customers’ perspectives, it’s the latter. The findings suggest that the reasons people choose an auto brand are emotional and often have little to do with the car itself. Affinity is driven by feelings, the report argues, and that can leave an indelible mark on a customer’s “relationship” with a car brand.

C Space turned to more than 1,500 US drivers to see which auto brands “get” them and to dig into what draws people to certain auto brands over others, and why. The report uses the Customer Quotient™(CQ) framework, which analyzes and measures the nature of the customer-company relationship from the customer’s perspective.

The study explores specific areas in which car companies perform best — like product quality and customer service — as well as areas where they can improve and strengthen their relationship with customers, like, for example, “shares my values” and “appreciates my time.” It also takes a closer look at the three auto brands with the highest CQ scores: respectively, Subaru, Lexus, and Tesla. Finally, the report concludes with practical advice for auto brands — techniques and questions to ask yourself to become more customer-focused.

Automotive CQ Customer Quotient

Source: C Space CQ automotive report, What drives customers to certain automotive brands?

What the top auto brands are doing right to win customers’ hearts, loyalty, and dollars, the report argues, has everything to do with the strength of their relationship with customers and their ability to forge a more meaningful emotional connection with customers.

Take Subaru, for example. As the top-performing automotive brand overall, Subaru is beloved by owners not only because it makes quality cars, but because it shares the same values and issues that its customers hold dear, like sustainability, education, and environmental conservation. The brand doesn’t just pay lip service to these values, it actually supports them as strongly as its customers do. And Subaru puts them on full display, facilitating spaces where like-minded owners come to feel a sense of community and pride.

For example, on the “Dear Subaru” community, owners share stories, photos, and videos — everything from pics of their pets and kids to tales of epic camping adventures. And on the brand’s “Love Promise” website, Subaru describes how it’s helping to make the world a better place through charitable work, and invites owners to share stories of their Subaru dealership making a difference in the causes they care about most. “It’s wonderful to be part of the Subaru family,” writes one woman alongside a photo of her dog in the back seat. “While this is my first Subaru, I can assure you it will not be my last!”

What we drive says to the world, “This is who I am. This is what I stand for.” The car companies that can harness that connection and foster a trusting relationship with customers will earn their loyalty, trust, and dollars.

If you have any thoughts or questions about the report, or if you’d like to learn more, email me at achawla@cspace.com.

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