Minivans - (still) hot or not?

05 Jun 2011 Marc Bland

My wife swears she'll never drive a minivan. Whereas, I have a teammate at Polk who takes every opportunity to boast about "how cool minivans are." Based on these two disparate points, I decided to conduct some research, using 1st quarter new vehicle registrations (January - March for a given year) as my guide, to determine if the minivan segment is still hot or not.

Minivan Share of Light Vehicle MarketBased on the 5-year trend of first quarter registrations below, the minivan market is losing ground with U.S. consumers. The segment has fallen 1.4 percentage points in share since 2007 to its current rate - 3.2% share of the light vehicle market.

It appears OEMs are aware of this trend as the number of minivan choices have dropped over 50% from 15 models in 2007 to 7 models in 2011.

The minivan segment is dominated by four models that represent 92% of the sales based on 1st quarter 2011 new vehicle registrations. This dominant group is led by the Honda Odyssey (32.6%), Toyota Sienna (25.7%), the Chrysler Town & Country (21.3%) and the Dodge Caravan (12.7%). The remaining 8% of the segment is represented by the following (in order by volume): Kia Sedona, Volkswagen Routan and the Nissan Quest.

Gone are the following family carriers of yesterday: Ford Freestar, Hyundai Entourage, Buick Terraza, Mazda MVP, Chevrolet Astro, Uplander and Venture, plus former offerings from Saturn, Mercury and Pontiac.

So when consumers leave a minivan, what do they buy next? To address this question, I used Polk's new Loyalty Analytic Tool and found that in 2010 over 40% of the defectors (defectors = had a minivan, went back to market and purchased something else) purchased either a midsize SUV (24%) or a compact SUV (15%). The SUV segment was closely followed by the midsize car (21%) and small car (16%).

My wife expressed a low cool factor and an overall lack of style for the minivan which is why she prefers an SUV. Based on the decline in market share of minivans, the reduced number of available minivan models and the fact that my "Minivan Loving" teammate drives an SUV, it appears the minivan segment may no longer be "hot" in the eyes of the American consumer.

These are my findings and thoughts, I would love to hear your comments on the minivan segment or the blog overall.

Posted by Marc Bland, Product Strategist & Multicultural Marketing Lead, Polk (06.06.2011)


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