JD Power Motorcycle Competitive Information Study

JD Power released their Competitive Information Study on motorcycles today.  Among the highlights is this:

The population of motorcycle buyers is aging, with the average rider age increasing from 40 to 49 years since 2001—an indication that many owners may soon exit the market. Additionally, the percentage of first-time buyers has declined for a second consecutive year, making it more critical now than ever for manufacturers to focus on attracting new customers.

So, motorcyclists are getting older every year, and new entrants to the sport are down for the last two years.  These are bad trends for the industry as a whole, of course.

The key for manufacturers and dealers is to deliver on the best customer service practices they can.  For the manufacturers, this means a laser-like focus on build quality, and delivering a solidly reliable product.  For the dealers, pro-active communication with customers, and quality service are key.  Missing out on any one of these seems to have a sharply negative effect on customer satisfaction, and on the chances of return business. Manufacturers and their dealers really do have to work hand in hand–now more than ever–to ensure a seamless and satisfying customer experience.

Those that don’t may find that surviving the current economic doldrums increasingly difficult.

The full JD Power press release is below the fold.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 16 December 2010 — Managing owner expectations through proactive communication and providing personal service has a considerable positive impact on overall satisfaction with the motorcycle ownership experience, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Motorcycle Competitive Information StudySM released today.

The study, now in its 13th year, measures owner satisfaction with new motorcycles by examining six major factors of the overall ownership experience: product; build quality; cost of ownership; sales; service; and warranty.

The study identifies a number of action items based on key diagnostics that most significantly impact the overall motorcycle ownership experience. These best practices can be used by manufacturers and their dealers to improve overall satisfaction. Two of these best practices, which are common among high performers, are managing owner expectations through proactive communication (including following up after a sales visit) and providing personal service (including a fluid and seamless process in servicing their motorcycle). When best practices such as these are met, satisfaction averages 878 on a 1,000-point scale—more than 50 index points above the industry average of 827. In comparison, when manufacturers and their dealers do not deliver on these best practices, satisfaction averages only 752.

“In an industry currently confronted with limited consumer spending, it is to the advantage of motorcycle manufacturers and dealerships to identify and implement the best practices that satisfy owners that may lead to higher revenue,” said Dennis Goodman, senior research manager of the powersports practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Slightly more than one-half of motorcycle owners state that their brand missed on two or more best practices, indicating that there is room for improvement across the industry.”

In addition, the more best practices that are delivered, the more likely the motorcycle owner is to recommend and repurchase the brand. For example, among motorcycle owners whose brand delivered on all of the best practices, 84 percent say they “definitely will” recommend the brand, and 63 percent say they “definitely will” repurchase the brand. In comparison, just 65 percent of motorcycle owners whose brand missed four or more best practices say they “definitely will” recommend the brand, and less than one-third say they “definitely will” repurchase.

The study also finds that quality has declined from 2009, with the industry average increasing by 29 problems per 100 motorcycles (PP100) to 152 PP100—the same level reported in the 2008 study. One-half of all owners report experiencing at least one problem with their motorcycle, with most of the problems being engine related (44%).

Among motorcycle owners who experience at least one problem, overall satisfaction is significantly lower than among owners who did not experience a problem with their new motorcycle (792 vs. 862, respectively). The problems that have the greatest negative impact on the overall satisfaction score are gearshift problems, clutch chatter and the engine lacking power.

The study also finds the following key trends:

  • Sales volumes and revenue of ancillary goods and services tend to be considerably higher—by an average of $957—at motorcycle dealerships that provide a highly satisfying experience vs. dealerships that do not.
  • The population of motorcycle buyers is aging, with the average rider age increasing from 40 to 49 years since 2001—an indication that many owners may soon exit the market. Additionally, the percentage of first-time buyers has declined for a second consecutive year, making it more critical now than ever for manufacturers to focus on attracting new customers.

The 2010 U.S. Motorcycle Competitive Information Study includes responses from 8,490 owners who purchased a new 2009 or 2010 model-year on-road or dual-sport motorcycle between September 2009 and May 2010. The study was fielded between September and October 2010.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

2 thoughts on “JD Power Motorcycle Competitive Information Study”

  1. Don´t see connection between aging population issue and the proposed solutions – Better quality, service, communication, etc. They are geared to satisfy the current aging user base. Nice for us the old farts, but far from what is needed to capture NEW riders.
    The name of the game is RECRUITMENT, plain and simple. What the industry needs now is the 3rd millennium equivalent to “With Honda you meet the nicest people”  in whatever shape or form would excite the 15 year old to beg dad for a bike instead of the latest Nintendo game.
    From the ideal theme, then evolve the right bikes, outfits, communications, events, etc.
    So, marketing managers of the motorcycle industry, get to work before all you can sell are trikes to septuagenarians…

  2. I haven’t read the actual report.  But I wonder if they’re talking about the age of *new* motorcycle buyers?  I’d guess that with the recession, most young riders are buying used bikes.  This is totally uneducated guess.

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