Lexus and Subaru rank the highest in brand loyalty among luxury and mass market brands, respectively, in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study. It's the study's third year and the third year both brands sit atop their segments.
What's interesting about this year's study is the impact of COVID-19. Overall, J.D. Power researchers found that vehicle owners remain vastly loyal to their specific brands, in part due to the effects of pandemic lockdowns. J.D. Power says many car shoppers were hesitant to visit showrooms in 2020 and so they often relied on their relationship with their current dealer.
“The time period for this study traversed nationwide lockdowns, a recovery from the worst of the pandemic and the effect chip shortages had on vehicle inventory,” said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data & analytics at J.D. Power. “During the height of the lockdown, shoppers who were unable—or unwilling—to visit showrooms in-person weren’t shopping around as much but could still call a dealer and have a vehicle delivered to their homes. The bottom line is finding a vehicle required working closely with a dealer and, when presented with obstacles, shoppers turned to the dealer they already knew. As a result, the level of increased loyalty this year is remarkable,” said Jominy.
The 2021 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study calculates whether an owner purchased the same brand after trading in an existing vehicle on a new vehicle. Customer loyalty is based on the percentage of vehicle owners who choose the same brand when trading in or purchasing their next vehicle.
In general, the study concludes that brand loyalty improved across the board. It was also stronger for the highest-ranked brands compared with 2020.
Lexus ranks highest among premium brands for a third consecutive year with a 51.6% loyalty rate, up from 48% in 2020. Porsche (50.2%) ranks second, followed by Mercedes-Benz (47.0%), BMW (45.6%) and Audi (45.5%). Acura (45.3%), Volvo (45.3%), Land Rover (38.6%), Cadillac (37.8%), Lincoln (36%) and INFINITI (27.9%) round out the top 10.
Jaguar has the least brand loyalty in the 2021 study.
Mass Market Brands
Subaru ranks highest among mass market brands and highest overall in the automotive industry for a third consecutive year with a loyalty rate of 61.8%, up from 60.5% in 2020. Toyota ranks second (61.1%), followed by Honda (59.3%), RAM (56.8%) and Ford (53.9%). Kia (52.5%), Hyundai (51%), Chevrolet (49.2%), Mazda (46.7%), Volkswagen (46%) round out the top 10 Mass Market automakers with the most brand loyalty.
Chrysler has the least brand loyalty in the 2021 study.
Most Improved Brands
The most improved brand year over year in the premium segment is Acura. up 7.1 percentage points). Mazda is the most improved mass market brand up 5.9 percentage points.
2021 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study calculations are based on transaction data from June 2020 through May 2021 and include all model years traded in.