"Stop the nonsense; it's about Love and Quality," says Strategic Vision
The 2010 Total Quality Report
For immediate release - Tuesday, July 27, 2010
[Adobe PDF version available]
San Diego — Strategic Vision Inc. (SVI) announced results of their 2010 Total Quality Index® (TQI) today, showing how vehicles are judged when the “complete” experience is measured, using Strategic Vision’s Total Quality measure. “Simply counting how many problems a vehicle has or design characteristics that buyers do not find ‘completely satisfying’ or ‘excellent,’ is inadequate when determining why people spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new vehicle. It over-simplifies customers’ processes, characterizing them as simple, non-feeling drones,” says Strategic Vision’s Founder and Chairman Darrel Edwards, Ph.D. “Any non-believer, who rejects the concept of the ‘Total Quality’ of a customer’s experience, should take a look at Apple’s iPhone 4 [with its questionable antennae problems] 1.5 Million first day sales, and ask themselves about how Love and Quality work together,” says Dr. Edwards.
If a manufacturer delivers the aspects customers’ truly desire, within a product that has acceptable levels of basic quality, those customers will find features and characteristics that are delightful, or even those aspects that they love. While you cannot have a vehicle with problems that vex its customers, you must deliver far more than just a vehicle that outranks its competition on problems. When commitment, advocacy and loyalty are outcomes of interest, you’ll find that problems and delight, or love, must be considered together, instead of separately, if you are to capture how customers think, feel and behave.
Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision explains, “For example, amid terrible press about the domestic brands, in 2007 TQI scores predicted Ford would reemerge as a leader in the US.” In 2008 he was quoted about Ford Motor Corporation predicting, “With careful attention to key areas such as workmanship, exterior styling and performance (which are quality cues for customers), Ford is building vehicles that also build brand equity and perceived customer quality that will lead to increased sales.”
“In 2010 Ford’s sales are no surprise to Strategic Vision with Ford leading in Total Quality with the Fusion, Taurus, Flex and F-150, we expect Ford’s success to continue,” says Alexander Edwards.
In previous years, TQI has shown Volkswagen of America (VoA) would be moving to a more prominent position in the US market. In 2010, VoA is the Corporate leader in TQI with the Golf, GTI and Tiguan leading their segments for Volkswagen and the Audi A5, Q5 and Q7 leading their segments for Audi. “Volkswagen and Audi have captured the hearts and minds of their customers by providing a vehicle experience that they Love.” says Dr. Edwards. “These products generate consideration, build their brands and increase sales because of the Love the product generates with its customers. While VoA may lag on ranked measures of initial quality, the experience with the vehicles is creating a sound customer base.”
The Total Quality Index® asks buyers to rate all aspects of the ownership experience from buying and owning to performance and driving – much more than simply counting problems, although problems and the impact the problems have on the customers’ experience is included in the calculation. Results from studies that measure the number of problems or the overall satisfaction of a vehicle do not measure the customers’ commitment to, advocacy for, loyalty, or the Delight and Love of their vehicles accurately.
Also shown in this year’s study, is those products that lead in TQI, create positive brand imagery and lead in capturing the hearts of the next generation of new car buyers. Chris Chaney, Vice President of Strategic Vision says, “The images that TQI-leading products produce are essential for today’s younger customers.” In 2010, the average TQI scores of vehicles purchased by those 29 years and younger were over ten points higher than for older buyers. Volkswagen has almost twice as many Generation Y owners rating the brand as Youthful and Energetic than the industry average. “Ford’s positive imagery is described as being a Leader and Bold by these youthful markets. These customers will be trend-setting and key to near future sales,” says Chaney.
American Honda Motors continues to score well on TQI with the Honda Ridgeline and Odyssey again leading their segments with delightful capability, innovation and overall flexibility in each of the models. Ridgeline’s price continues to keep sales below competitors, but those who choose to purchase the vehicle are delighted with almost every aspect of the ownership experience. The Honda Civic Coupe also leads its segment in 2010. Its exterior design, interior trim and “next generation” interior greatly appeal to the younger, new-vehicle buyer.
General Motors (GM) has made some improvements this year, especially with the revival of the Buick brand which had the greatest TQI score increase. This increase started with the lowest number of Things Gone Wrong (TGW) per hundred vehicles as a brand (TGW is an input into the TQI score), and with strong exterior and interior designs of both the LaCrosse and Lucerne, each model increased over 20 points each in TQI; the Enclave was also only five points below the segment leader in 2010. Also for GM, the GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Suburban tied each other in the Large Utility segment.
For Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), the 4Runner again was the leader in its segment. The Toyota brand continues to be trusted by its core buyers. Recent problems have not deterred them, but many who might have considered Toyota have been dissuaded. The 4Runner continues to deliver strong cues associated with Exterior Styling and Interior Comfort while also delivering perceptions of Environmental Friendliness not found in competition. In 2010 Lexus still has the best (lowest) TGW score among all luxury brands and Scion has the best TGW score of all brands.
Over the past few years, because of low TGW scores, many Toyota, Lexus and Scion models have scored well on TQI and have led their segments. In 2010, with other brands, such as Ford and Volkswagen, offering stronger, innovative products in a smaller-volume market, competition is fierce. Competition has benefited from Toyota’s recall problems. Finally, three other models are worthy of mention. Dodge Challenger leads its segment with outstanding “retro” Styling, driving Excitement, and a sense of Prestige. Hyundai Genesis has provided ground-breaking value among near-luxury (even luxury competition) with luxurious appointments and impressive functionality at value starting at $33,000 MSRP.
Finally, the Mercedes S-Class sedan is again the definition of luxury in 2010, leading for the fifth time in the past six years and having the highest Total Quality score in the entire industry.
Buyers rated the following vehicles top in their segments:
|Small Car||Honda Civic Coupe||880|
|Small Multi-Function||Volkswagen Golf||883|
|Mid-Size Car||Ford Fusion||896|
|Large Car||Ford Taurus||900|
|Near-Luxury Car||Hyundai Genesis||914|
|Luxury Car||Mercedes-Benz S-Class||937|
|Specialty Coupe||Dodge Challenger|
|Premium Coupe||Audi A5/S5 Coupe||921|
|Entry Utility||Volkswagen Tiguan||890|
|Mid-Size Crossover Utility||Ford Flex||893|
|Mid-Size Traditional Utility||Toyota 4Runner||862|
|Large Utility||GMC Yukon|
|Near-Luxury Utility||Audi Q5||906|
|Luxury Utility||Audi Q7||927|
|Standard Pickup||Honda Ridgeline||856|
|Full-Size Pickup||Ford F-150||899|
“We know Total Quality is strengthened by delighting customers and getting them to love what you provide. A customer will remark they ‘love’ the way the vehicle handles; the convenience of the controls for the radio; or the navigation system that works with the satellite radio to manage traffic problems. We are ready, after twelve years of experimentation with the concept, to include Love in all the work we do since measuring how much love you can create is the next step in discriminating between winning and losing in today’s competitive environment,” states Dr. Edwards. “Since 1999, our exploratory studies have shown the power of Love wins customers, creates advocacy, strengthens commitment and builds loyalty. It is critical how we measure Quality and Love if we are to help companies deliver what customers desire.”
The Total Quality Index® was calculated from 29,037 buyers who bought 2010 models in September to December of 2009. Strategic Vision has presented Total Quality Awards® annually since 1995. Since its foundation in 1972 and incorporation in 1989, Strategic Vision has studied consumer and constituent decision-making for a wide variety of clients, including most auto manufacturers, Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Procter and Gamble, the White House, 10 Downing Street, and many advertising agencies. Its unique expertise is identifying consumers’ motivational hierarchies, including the values, emotions and images that shape perceptions and behavior. The firm’s in-depth Discovery Interviews and ValueCentered Surveys provide comprehensive, integrated and actionable outcomes, linking behavior to attributes to consequences to values and emotions to images.