In order for an automaker to be successful, they can't just sell a car to a customer once; they need to have a large percentage of repeat business. Owner loyalty is something that all brands try to cultivate, some automakers accomplish this with prestige and performance while others consistently deliver quality products that offer relatively trouble free ownership. In recent polls conducted by Polk Auto and Brand Keys showed Ford and Hyundai leading the pack when it comes to retaining to owners, while Volkswagen struggles.
Ford's success is not surprising at all considering the F-series truck is one of the best selling vehicles of all time, and truck buyers tend to be some of the most loyal buyers in the marketplace. However, aside from the F-series what Ford has done right in the past few years is launch models that are really appealing to customers and priced them competitively. The Focus, Fusion, Escape, and Explorer are incredibly popular because they offer a solid mix of style, technology, and driving enjoyment. These models are so appealing that despite some hiccups with quality control and recalls they are continuing to find new and repeat buyers.
I was a little taken back to find out that Hyundai has topped the Brand Keys loyalty and engagement index 4 years in a row and that the Veloster was named Polk's top "sporty car" for return customers. Are people really buying the Veloster more than once? However, Hyundai's overall approach of offering style, value, and long warranties in addition to fielding some up-market luxury alternatives have given them some serious standing in the market. Remember when Hyundai was the car you bought because you couldn't afford anything else? That was not so long ago. The Korean brands have made serious strides from being strictly value propositions to formidable competitors.
Which brings me to poor Volkswagen...they just can't seem to keep customers. I guess the Biegerkrieg did not work out as planned. There was a time when VW had an almost cult-like fanbase. Owners of Jettas and Golfs would continuously trade their cars in for newer models, because despite the higher price tags, VWs were just a little bit more special than boring transportation from the Japanese. Fellow reader WillKinton247, has discussed in more detail what VW needs to do to not only retain, but acquire new customers.
I understand the "brand loyalty" concept from practical perspective, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. However, as an enthusiast, I have never been loyal to one brand or vehicle, because I have this strange desire to "try something else." How does brand loyalty impact you as a buyer? Has a positive or negative experience with a brand influenced your next purchase? Have you ever bought the same car twice?