The survey aims to quantify the impact aftermarket service facilities have on the new car buying preferences of consumers. If a particular brand of vehicle is difficult to repair in the aftermarket, are future sales of that brand negatively impacted? By the same token, if a particular brand of vehicle is easy to repair in the aftermarket will sales be boosted due to positive recommendations made to consumers by happy technicians?
Automakers, especially the import brands, often ask ETI why providing scan tool data and other specialized information to tool and equipment makers is important. They understand what it means to aftermarket equipment companies, but what is in it for them?
“Our response has always been: ‘We believe that the quality and quantity of aftermarket tool support each auto maker provides indirectly, affects new and used car sales volume because independent shops influence consumer brand choice. Furthermore, we believe that shop recommendations are based in large part on the quality and availability of aftermarket information and tools for a particular brand,’” ETI stated in a press release announcing the survey results.
ETI says when asked for evidence that this was the case, the organization answered by using anecdotal references to some specific instances where buying decisions have been influenced, but were never able to provide any statistical data to back up those claims, until now.
ETI developed two surveys, one for aftermarket shops and one for consumers. They were designed to determine if consumers ask aftermarket shops for recommendations regarding the purchase of their next vehicle and what, if any, advice they are given.
ETI asked shop owners and technicians which vehicle brands are difficult to repair in the aftermarket, and also if they receive consumer requests regarding which brand of car to buy. In addition, ETI asked if their answer is based on repair difficulty, as well as what factors make a particular brand easier or more difficult to repair.
Consumers were asked where they get their cars repaired. If the answer was an independent shop, ETI asked them if they ever ask for a recommendation regarding what brand to buy the next time they are ready to purchase a vehicle. If the answer was yes, ETI asked whether or not the recommendation influenced their decision.
“ETI’s study has uncovered a very important facet of ‘word of mouth’ advertising and influence. According to a 2012 study done by Maritz Research, word of mouth plays a more important role in vehicle purchase decisions than magazine reviews, TV advertising, sales brochures, sponsored events and newspaper ads combined. Imagine if just a small portion of the money automakers spend on advertising were diverted to aftermarket support. It could go a long way toward increased brand promotion,” said Charlie Gorman, the study’s author.
Gorman went on to say, “It is no coincidence that the automakers that are recommended the most in this study are also the companies that tend to support ETI’s efforts to acquire tool and equipment information specific to developing aftermarket products. It is ETI’s hope that the automakers that are farther down the list will see the value. It could help them gain approval from a very influential source of word of mouth advertising.”