Pontiac owners... where are you going next?

03 Mar 2011 IHS Markit Automotive Expert

Nearly two years have passed since General Motors announced it was filing for bankruptcy. With the announcement, General Motors also determined it would discontinue production of the Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer brands. So now what? What do owners of these brands do when they return to the marketplace for their next vehicle purchase or lease? How has General Motors fared in its customer retention?

Looking at full-year 2010 data: the Pontiac brand saw 57,641 customers return to market and General Motors was able to recapture 53.3% of them. Historically through 2008, 60% of Pontiac owners have remained loyal to General Motors. In 2010, the loyalty rate fell to 47%, which represents a 13 percentage point decrease in overall General Motors loyalty. With the discontinuation of Pontiac: 33.5% defected to Chevrolet, 11.7% defected to GMC, 6.7% defected to Buick, and 1.5% defected to Cadillac.

Defections to other domestic corporations made up nearly 16% of owners. The Ford brand ranked 2nd in the conquest of Pontiac owners at 10.5%. Chrysler Corporation saw the Dodge brand ranked 9th, capturing 3.2%. Jeep and Chrysler combined were able to conquest 1.7%.

Pontiac Owner Defection Defections to import makes were nearly 31%. Among the foreign automakers, Toyota was able to conquest 7.7% of Pontiac owners, while Honda was just behind capturing 7.5%.

The high percentage of conquest activity among the import brands suggests that these owners may have lost faith in the domestic OEMs. But with the recall issues faced by the import brands in 2010, customer loyalty could be at risk -- allowing domestic OEMs an opportunity to win them back into their brands. These owners, even though they may have been lost, should not be forgotten.

See the adjacent chart for the top 15 brands that conquested Pontiac owners in 2010.

If you have a consumer research question you would like my opinion on, please comment below, and I look forward to providing some insight.

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