Luxury Makes Take Hit in Customer Confidence
|   Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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As the auto industry faced a continuing five-year slide in customer confidence, the usual leading segment of the market, luxury cars, took a bigger hit this year than did other vehicles.

According to a report issued by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and released to CNBC, the drop in confidence ranged in makes you would not expect to be dropping. For example, Acura had the highest dip at 7 percent, dropping it to a rating of 77 in the ACSI.

This is, according to the overall report, five points below this year's average number for the industry as a whole. This rating puts Honda's luxury brand at the lowest mark in the survey.

Other luxury nameplates that were reported to have declined this year included:

Lexus, the upscale division of Toyota, posted a dip.
BMW, always highly regarded by customers, posted a dip.
Mercedes-Benz, the survey's leader, posted a 2 percent dip, surprising ACSI.
Cadillac, the domestic luxury division of GM, posted a dip.
Acura, Honda's luxury nameplate, as noted, posted the biggest dip of 7 percent to a rating of 77.

Commenting on the report, Claes Fornell, ACSI founder, told CNBC that drops in the luxury segment "didn't used to be the case." He continued that customers have a right to "expect more for their money when they pay a premium price."

Unlike the children's story of the chicken that ran around shouting "the sky is falling; the sky is falling" after being struck by an object while napping, the sky isn't falling for the car industry. Indeed, it doesn't look like the industry will be driving over the end of a bridge and into an abyss, just now. The industry is still healthy the ACSI is still happy about its prospects. Indeed, the industry occupies the sixth slot in the ACSI's satisfaction surveys of 43 top industries.

Still, it is a wakeup call for the industry, as a whole, VanAmburg told CNBC. They have watch customer moves closely. And, they also have to watch for changes in preferences.

VanAmburg suggested that this means the industry must pay close attention to the slippage in customer confidence and satisfaction. If it goes on for a long period of time, it could hurt the industry's standing among the people who actually pay the bills, car buyers.
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