The hottest sets of wheels to be released in India this year – Maruti Suzuki Swift and Toyota Innova – have won over the consumers with their performance. According to a new study released by leading market information provider, TNS, Swift and Innova had achieved top honours in the upper premium compact and SUV/ MPV segments, respectively.
The 2005 four-wheeler Total Customer Satisfaction (TCS) study conducted by TNS specialist division, TNS Automotive, is the largest syndicated automotive study in India, representing the responses of more than seven thousand new car buyers.
This comprehensive study covers over 50 models with customer evaluations taken in the key areas of sales satisfaction, product quality, vehicle performance and design, after-sales service, brand image, and cost-of-ownership. The TCS index score provides a measure of satisfaction and loyalty a given model enjoys with its customers.
"The industry witnesses a decline on all areas of customer ownership experience compared to 2004," said Rajeev Lochan, General Manager (Asia Pacific) of TNS Automotive. "The decline is predominantly for older small and entry mid-size car models. The ageing of these models is posing a stiffer challenge for manufacturers to sustain past performance levels at a time when customer expectations are rising sharply" he added.
Rankings for the TCS study are done at the vehicle segment-level to provide comparisons among similar groups of vehicles. The models ranking highest in their respective segments for total customer satisfaction are – Maruti 800 for "entry compact"; Maruti Wagon-R for "premium compact"; Maruti Suzuki Swift for "upper premium compact"; Tata Indica Diesel for "small car – diesel"; Hyundai Accent Petrol for "entry mid-size"; Honda City for "mid-size"; Toyota Corolla for "premium mid-size"; Hyundai Accent Diesel and Mitsubishi Lancer Diesel for "mid-size car – diesel"; Honda Accord for "entry luxury"; Toyota Innova for "SUV/ MPV"; and Honda CRV for "premium SUV".
The study reveals a significant increase in importance for sales satisfaction, product (both quality and performance & design), and brand image since 2003, indicating rising customer expectations.
"Maruti Suzuki Swift and Toyota Innova achieve segment best ratings by performing well on areas of greater relevance, particularly on product and brand image," said Lochan, adding, "Sales satisfaction is a common weakness for both these models largely due to the longer waiting time for new car delivery."
In addition to providing comprehensive customer evaluations on all ownership aspects, this study has been tracking some of the key industry indicators since its inception in 2002. With over 25,000 car buyers surveyed since 2002, the sample base for these indicators is extremely robust.
Some of the key indicators and their implications are:
Progressive reduction in car ownership cycle-time from an average of 61 months in 2002 to 53 months in 2005. This shortened cycle-time is bringing these owners for repeat purchase sooner to fuel the growth – something already visible in the growing extent of additional/ replacement purchase
Growth in additional (multi-car households)/ replacement purchase from 51 per cent in 2002 to 65 per cent in 2005. This will impact the volume growth in higher-end segments since the current car owners show upward mobility
Increasing budget for future purchase – future intenders with a budget of Rs 6 lakhs+ has increased from 44 per cent in 2002 to 58 per cent in 2005.
While first time buyers is declining as a composition of total volumes, it is high in absolute terms and is fuelled by the upgradation of two-wheeler owners (According to TNS' motorcycle study, 14 per cent intend to upgrade to cars with a budget ranging from Rs 2.5-4.5 lakh)
"These indicators clearly suggest a sustainable volume growth in the medium term," observed Lochan. "Additionally, a shift in composition can be expected with upper premium compact and midsize segments expected to grow at a rate much faster than the industry."