Polk Automotive Loyalty Award Winners Announced
10 January 2000
DETROIT -- The winners of the fourth annual Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards were announced today at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), with Ford Motor Co. taking home the award for Overall Manufacturer Loyalty for the first time and Ford Division winning Overall Make Loyalty for the fourth consecutive year. Other manufacturers capturing Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards for the 1999 model year in the model categories were: General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler and BMW. Based on nearly a one percent increase in loyalty over the last model year, Ford Motor Co. realized revenue growth of $207 million as a direct result of obtaining more than 9,300 additional customers in 1999. By incorporating lifetime value of each customer retained, Ford should realize more than $2.8 billion dollars in long-term revenue by keeping these customers in its owner base. Polk Automotive Loyalty Award winners - 1999 model year Category Winner Loyalty Pct. Avg. Loyalty Pct. for Category Overall Awards: Manufacturer Loyalty Ford Motor Company 66.0 56.0 Make Loyalty Ford Division * 61.3 44.4 Model Awards: Small Car Ford Escort * 26.9 17.2 Midsize Car Buick Century * 31.4 20.1 Large Car Mercury Grand Marquis * 41.7 28.1 Luxury Car Lincoln Town Car * 40.3 19.9 Prestige Luxury Car BMW 7 Series 26.9 18.4 Sports Car Chevrolet Corvette 19.0 9.8 Minivan Mercury Villager 33.8 20.1 Pickup Truck Ford F-Series * 37.6 27.8 Sport Utility Vehicle Jeep Grand Cherokee 30.9 21.3 * 1998 Model Year Polk Automotive Loyalty Award Winner "Winning the Overall Manufacturer Loyalty Award is a great accomplishment for Ford Motor Company," said Karen Piurkowski, Polk's director of loyalty. "Their success in this category has not come easily, as they have invested significant time and resources in helping to serve their customers better. Ford was also one of the first manufacturers to offer an additional financial incentive to only its loyal customers, as opposed to offering the same rebate to all consumers regardless of previous ownership. Given the commitment it has made to its customers, Ford has truly earned the top two Polk Awards for the 1999 model year." General Motors also performed well in the manufacturer loyalty category in 1999 (65.7 percent), finishing a close second to Ford. "Despite facing the start of the new model year with depleted inventories on dealer lots due to the UAW strike, General Motors and its employees worked hard to regain its historically strong loyalty performance -- and it worked," said Piurkowski. "GM's loyalty performance increased steadily throughout the model year, with particularly strong performance in the third and fourth quarters." New model-level award categories were introduced this year to recognize two of the fastest growing vehicle segments: Prestige Luxury Cars (average sticker price above $50,000), and Sports Cars (with the growing popularity of Roadsters). BMW won the new Prestige Luxury Car Loyalty Award with its 7 Series, while Chevrolet's Corvette -- a model that has been on the market for nearly 50 years -- took home the award in the new Sports Car category. "Both the 7 Series and the Corvette have come to be consumer favorites over the years," said Piurkowski. "Many manufacturers refresh their product line by offering new models throughout the years, or even by renaming the same model to capture the attention of the consumer. BMW and Chevrolet, however, have successfully concentrated on renewing the look of these two models over time without renaming them. The Corvette has strong brand recognition with consumers due to the longevity of its name and the same can be said of the 7 Series. It's obvious that consumers have responded positively to this brand positioning as evidenced by these models' strong loyalty performance." There were five repeat winners in the model-level categories, including Ford Escort, Buick Century, Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Car, and Ford F-Series. The Mercury Grand Marquis, Ford F-Series and Ford Escort have captured the three previous Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards for their respective categories, while the Lincoln Town Car shared top honors in 1996 in addition to winning in 1997 and 1998. Buick Century took home last year's award in the Midsize Car category. Mercury Villager and Jeep Grand Cherokee returned as winners in their respective categories during the 1999 model year, with Villager winning previously in 1996 and 1997 and Grand Cherokee taking the 1997 award. "Loyalty has become an industry buzzword in recent years, and for good reason," said Piurkowski. "Manufacturers are realizing higher revenue and profits as a result of their improved loyalty efforts. At the same time, consumers are benefiting by receiving better treatment, products and communication from their manufacturers. Loyalty is not a fad -- it's becoming an important part of every manufacturer's growth strategy and is providing the treatment and results that consumers are becoming accustomed to." American consumers choose the winners of the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards by returning to purchase the same model, make or manufacturer's vehicle during the current model year. Polk tabulates results based on all consumer new-vehicle buying and leasing activity during the model year. The awards are based on Polk's proprietary household loyalty methodology, which is measured by examining those new-vehicle owning households who returned to market during the 1999 model year to purchase or lease a new vehicle. Polk's Manufacturer Loyalty Excelerator(TM) report, which is the basis for the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards, provides the latest insight into this type of consumer behavior. This report was introduced to the automotive industry in 1995 and was created to provide household loyalty information to manufacturers at many different levels. It is being used to determine the awards; to provide loyalty percentages for the entire automotive industry; to allow for cross-industry comparisons of loyalty behavior; and to examine loyalty at various levels -- e.g., from the industry level down to the vehicle line level. The report measures loyalty throughout the entire model year so that manufacturers may keep abreast of loyalty trends as they occur in the industry.