Comparison Shopping Trumps Brand Loyalty for New Car Buyers

In the old days, there were people who only bought one kind of car.  Entire driveways would be filled with just one brand of car, and these people might even visit the same dealership or the same salesperson each time they decided to buy a new car.  Those days are over. 

According to the New York Times, market researchers CNW found that this year’s new car buyers only remained loyal to a particular automaker 20% of the time.  New car buyers were loyal to their brand more than 70% of the time in the late 1980s and early 90s.

“Brand loyalty has shrunk because of widespread improvements in the products,” James Farley, head of marketing at Ford, told the Times. “The ‘trust factor’ is more or less the same for most cars.”

That means the buyers feel free to choose their new car based on styling, features and incentives rather than reliability.  Every brand of car available today has proven that it builds a reliable car, and consumers are confident that no matter what they choose, they’ll be able to count on it for years.

Car shopping picture

Comparison shopping is the best way to find the best vehicle for you.  Every customer should compare a car or truck they’re considering to the competition’s. Otherwise, how do you know you’re making the right choice? 

Many dealerships are part of large groups under the same ownership that serve several different brands, you can walk into a Nissan dealership and the salesperson will bring you to test drive a Kia so that you can compare the two cars back to back.  Of course some salespeople will try to steer you towards the car that makes them the most profit, but others will work with you to find the best new car loan interest rates and incentives.

The only people I’ve ever known who only bought one type of car had a reason for their loyalty besides sentimentality.  Some chose their brand because of a member of the family worked for the company, and they got employee pricing on the car as well as hefty discounts on service.  Others turned to Toyota because for a long time it was the only company with a four-door hybrid.

Brand loyalty won’t do anything but hinder your ability to get a good deal on a new car.  Most carmakers offer a customer acquisition bonus that gives you a few hundred dollars off the price of your new car if you’re a current owner of whichever competitor they’ve decided is their number one enemy this month. So in some cases you’ll save money just by not being loyal.

Photo via edmunds.