Michelin maintains top position in Japan winter tyre survey
For the ninth consecutive year, Michelin has topped the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 Japan Winter Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study. Out of a possible 1,000 points, Michelin beat nine other brands with a score of 644, 30 points ahead of second-placed Bridgestone. The J.D. Power study was based on responses from 7,461 vehicle owners who purchased new winter tyres for their car between May 2009 and February 2012 and who are still using these tyres. The study was fielded in February 2012 and measured customer satisfaction with winter tyres by examining six key factors: tyre performance in snow-covered road conditions, performance in icy road conditions, durability/reliability, ride/quietness on dry or wet roads, handling/traction on dry or wet roads and appearance.
According to the study, which was released on 31 May, owner satisfaction with the performance of winter tyres on icy roads has improved industry-wide in Japan, surpassing satisfaction with basic performance (performance on dry or wet roads, durability/reliability, and appearance). Customer satisfaction with winter tyre performance on icy roads has improved during the past six years and has surpassed satisfaction with performance on dry or wet roads, which has decreased during the same period. Basic performance characteristics – fuel economy and ride, noise and tyre wear – generated the lowest customer satisfaction.
“The key area for tyre companies to focus on improving customer satisfaction with winter tyres is likely to shift, based on 2012 study results, to improvement in basic performance in areas other than winter road performance,” said Taku Kimoto, executive director of the automotive division at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Tokyo.
In addition, the study found that changes have occurred in customer purchase behaviours during the past six years. The percentage of customers who compare brands at the time of winter tyre purchase has increased to 42 per cent, an eight percentage point increase from the 2005 study. “This indicates intensification of competition among brands,” said Kimoto. “This increased competition is due to the commoditisation of winter tyres and an increase in the number of customers who use the internet to select tyres.”
Satisfaction significantly affects winter tyre brand repurchase intentions. The study found that 25 per cent of owners with overall satisfaction scores of 666 points or higher indicate they “definitely will” repurchase the same brand the next time, while only five per cent of those with lower satisfaction scores indicate the same.
“Further product differentiation is required for tyre manufacturers to secure share in the maturing winter tyre market. For this reason, it is necessary for manufacturers to return to improvement in basic tyre performance based on the customer perspective,” Kimoto concluded.