A survey conducted by market research firm Mintel as part of a larger report on Small Cars has found consumer dissatisfaction with their purchases in the segment. In the study, Mintel found that only half of small car-buying respondents (51%) say they feel “extremely happy” with their small car purchases; by comparison, 80% of all respondents report feeling just as happy with their vehicle purchases.
Our survey revealed a surprisingly high number of small car drivers who aren’t fully satisfied by their vehicles, suggesting that today’s small cars may not have the amenities people want. This is a key insight for Detroit manufacturers as they revisit business and development plans for 2009.—Mark Guarino, senior analyst at Mintel
Mintel research shows that most small car buyers choose to go compact because of fuel economy. Across income groups, 79% of respondents who purchased small cars say they selected their current vehicle because of gas mileage.
Moreover, 42% of small car owners bought their vehicle to replace a similar-sized vehicle in the same category, according to Mintel.
There is great potential for growth in the small car market. Automakers just need to figure out how to best package and sell the benefits of small cars to consumers. The transition from expensive, gas-hogging SUV to cheaper, fuel-efficient compact will feel like less of a sacrifice if the smaller car offers similar luxury features. Automakers need these innovative strategies to show consumers they are committed to change.—Mark Guarino
The sampling size was 500 adults 18+ who bought or leased a compact car in the past 24 months. The Mintel Small Cars report was originally targeted for December 2008 but has been delayed to the economic turmoil in the industry and to get a better assessment on how things are going to play out this year, according to Guarino.