Maruti Udyog, Toyota top Total Customer Satisfaction Rankings

MUMBAI: The findings of the 2004 four-wheeler total customer satisfaction study released by TNS have ranked Maruti and Toyota models as the highest in six out of the ten vehicle segments. Among the new models launched since TNS' 2003 study, Ford Endeavour has achieved top honors in the "premium SUV" segment.



Representing the responses of more than 7000 car buyers towards the performance of over 40 models in the key areas of sales satisfaction, product quality, vehicle performance and design, after-sales service, brand image, and cost-of-ownership, the 2004 four-wheeler Total Customer Satisfaction (TCS) study conducted by TNS specialist division, TNS Automotive, is the largest syndicated automotive study in India.



Rankings for the TCS study are done at the vehicle segment-level to provide comparisons among similar groups of vehicles. The 10 models ranking highest in their respective segments for total customer satisfaction are: Maruti 800 for "entry compact"; Maruti Zen Petrol for "premium compact"; Tata Indica Diesel for "small car - diesel"; Maruti Esteem Petrol for "entry midsize"; Mitsubishi Lancer Petrol for "midsize"; Toyota Corolla for "premium midsize"; Mitsubishi Lancer Diesel for "midsize car - diesel"; Toyota Camry for "entry luxury"; Toyota Qualis for "SUV"; and Ford Endeavour for "premium SUV."



"The industry witnesses an improvement on all areas of customer ownership experience except sales satisfaction," said TNS Automotive general manager (Asia Pacific) Rajeev Lochan. "Performance and design, brand image, and after-sales are the three most improved aspects for the industry. The decline in sales satisfaction can partly be attributed to the increasing sales volume, indicating the difficulty in managing customer expectations in a growing market," he added.

While the industry has improved overall, the customer expectations across all study components too have increased. The 2003 study had identified performance and design, after-sales, and cost of ownership as key hidden opportunities where the importance has strengthened even further this year.

In addition to the customer evaluations on various aspects of their ownership experience, TNS has been tracking the industry trends since 2002. One key finding emerging is the shortened cycle-time for replacement/ additional car purchase. Compared to a cycle-time of close to five years in 2002, the 2004 study observes a significant reduction to a cycle-time of less than four and a half years. Some of the other key trends are:

    Increase in owners purchasing additional/ replacement cars - 64 per cent additional/ replacement buyers in 2004 compared to 49 per cent in 2002. This shift is significant in north and west compared to south India.

    High preference for four-door sedan in the future - among those decided on the future purchase, 52 per cent indicate a preference for four-door sedan.

    Increase in budget for next car - among those decided on the future purchase, the average budget is close to Rs 700,000 (Rs 625,000 in 2003).

    Nearly one-fifth of motorcycle owners (basis: TNS' motorcycle study) indicate a preference for upgrading to cars with a budget ranging from Rs 200,000 to Rs 400,000.

    Makes like Honda, Toyota, and General Motors enjoy a high mind-share among future additional/ replacement buyers. Small car manufacturers like Maruti and Tata Motors are high on the preference for future up-graders from motorcycles, while Hyundai finds a balance between the two groups.

"These trends clearly indicate that the combination of a shortened replacement cycle-time, increase in upwardly mobile multi-car households, and up-graders from motorcycle owners is and will continue to fuel the double-digit growth in the car industry," says Lochan.

"Small car manufacturers will largely benefit from the rapidly growing base of motorcycle owners, while midsize car makes like Honda are strongly placed to capitalise from the shortened cycle-time among future replacement/ additional car buyers," he added.

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