WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (July 12, 2002)—Michelin took the top spot in passenger tires and finished in a tie with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in light truck tires in J.D. Power & Associates' 2002 consumer satisfaction survey.
In the retailer portion of Power's 11th annual Replacement Tire Buyer Behavior and Satisfaction Study, Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. of Prineville, Ore., ranked highest in customer satisfaction for the third year in a row.
The study is based on responses from more than 9,400 vehicle owners in the U.S. who recently purchased replacement tires for their vehicle.
In both the passenger-vehicle and light-truck categories, Michelin demonstrated strong performance across all the customer-driven measures that comprise the replacement tire satisfaction Index, Power said. These include situational performance, long-term performance (reliability, dependability and wearability), design and product quality. For the past four years, Michelin has ranked highest in customer satisfaction for its replacement tires among passenger-vehicle owners.
Toyo followed Michelin in the passenger vehicle segment, which includes cars and compact vans. Uniroyal and Kelly (in a tie) and Cooper and Goodyear (in a tie) finished next, respectively. Tire brands performing at or below industry average, in alphabetical order, were BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Dayton, Douglas, Dunlop, Firestone, General, Sears and Yokohama.
BFGoodrich, a brand owned by Michelin, followed the top-ranked Michelin and Cooper brands in the light truck category. The remaining brands performing at or below industry average, in alphabetical order, were Firestone, Goodyear and Uniroyal.
“Michelin has enjoyed continued success in the J.D. Power and Associates tire studies by staying focused on customer needs and consistently delivering on those aspects that are most important to vehicle owners,” said Jeff Zupancic, director of the tire practice at Power. “In the light-truck segment, Cooper Tire has improved significantly in the areas of situational performance (including fast start traction and handling responsiveness, among others) and design (road quietness, sidewall style/appearance and tread design)."
In the retail portion of the study, one indication of the strength of Les Schwab´s performance is that more than half of its customers indicated they were “delighted” with their overall retailer experience compared to an average of about one-third of respondents giving their retailer the highest rating possible.
“From a tire retailer satisfaction standpoint, Les Schwab is in a class by itself, with eight out of 10 Schwab customers returning to the same retailer as their previous purchase,” Mr. Zupancic said. “Schwab´s commitment to delighting customers in the areas of personnel and service, the largest contributing customer-driven factors to retailer satisfaction, is key to its high customer-retention levels.”
Following Les Schwab Tire Centers in tire retailer satisfaction were Big O Tires and Goodyear Auto Centers, respectively. Finishing at or below industry average in tire retailer satisfaction, in alphabetical order, were: Discount Tire Co., Firestone Car Care, National Tire & Battery, Penske Auto Centers, Pep Boys, Price Club/Costco, Sam´s Club, Sears Auto Center, Tires Plus and Wal-Mart.
The study segments tire buyer behavior into four key categories: brand buyers, brand shoppers, retailer reliants and price shoppers. The study found that while a competitive tire price is foundational in tire retailing, tire brand plays a significant role in the purchase decision for nearly one-half of all tire buyers, and tire retailer personnel influence more than one-fourth of buyers.
“Understanding the different behavioral characteristics among these segments will enable both tire manufacturers and retailers to better satisfy the expectations of their customers,” Mr. Zupancic said.