Japanese study stresses value of web presence
The Japanese are changing the way they change their tyres, reports J.D. Power Asia Pacific. The results of the company’s 2011 Japan Replacement Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study were released on 18 January, and J.D. Power believes they show “replacement tyre shopping behaviour among vehicle owners in Japan is undergoing considerable change.” This change is said to be particularly occurring due to steadily increasing usage of the internet during the shopping process.
The study, now in its third year, measures customer satisfaction with replacement market summer tyres in four segments: mini-car/compact car, passenger car, mini van, and SUV. Overall customer satisfaction is based on four factors: appearance, durability/reliability, handling/traction, and ride/quietness.
According to this year’s study, the percentage of owners who rely on the internet when selecting tyres has increased by ten percentage points during the past three years to an average of 38 per cent in 2011. During the same period, the percentage of owners relying upon salesperson recommendations has decreased by 11 percentage points to 39 per cent. Most internet research took the form of visiting the official tyre brand websites. On average, customers visit 3.5 tyre brand websites when preparing for a purchase, and the time spent on a website during the shopping process is 15 per cent higher than the industry average.
“Vehicle owners are actively seeking information online regarding tire performance and to compare products before visiting tire shops,” said Tetsushi Furuya, project manager at J.D. Power Asia Pacific. “This suggests that owners are increasingly forming judgments about which tyres to purchase before even setting foot in a shop or speaking to a salesperson.”
According to Furuya, as owners who actively seek information online prior to visiting a tyre dealer are more likely to select pricier, higher-performance tyres, it is important for tyre manufacturers to use various media that are suited to consumer needs when providing product information.
As for satisfaction and where it was found, Yokohama ranked the highest in the mini-car/compact car segment, Michelin topped the passenger car segment (for the third consecutive year), while Bridgestone ranked highest in the mini van segment. Puzzlingly, J.D. Power didn’t include results for the SUV segment in the information released on 18 January. The study found that providing high levels of satisfaction has a strong positive effect on customer loyalty. While 19 per cent of highly satisfied passenger car owners (scores averaging 710 or higher on a 1,000-point scale) indicate that they “definitely would” repurchase the same brand for their next set of replacement tyres, only four per cent of less-satisfied owners say the same.
“To capture and retain customers in light of evolving shopping and purchase behaviours, it will become increasingly necessary for tyre manufacturers to perform all three of the following key activities: reconsider from the owner’s perspective every point of contact that occurs before, during, and after shop visits; appropriately combine various media to communicate messages; and create products that meet owner needs.”
The 2011 Japan Replacement Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses from 6,835 vehicle owners within the first four to 15 months of ownership, who purchased their replacement tyres between June 2010 and May 2011. The study was fielded in September 2011.