Why Do People Buy Trucks – 2013 Edition
In 2009, I wrote a post titled “Why Do People Buy Trucks” that explained the most common reasons consumers gave for buying a pickup. This data came from Ford market research:
As you can see, towing and work dominate the results, with about 1 in 6 buyers buying because of “image.”
While I believe these numbers understate the “image” market (a lot of the “towing” people talk about is infrequent and well within the capabilities of smaller vehicles), it’s the best data we have about the purpose people have in mind when they buy a truck.
However, this data doesn’t shed much light on how people decide to buy a specific make and model. Fortunately, recent data published by JD Power paints a very interesting picture.
Quality and Reliability Top Factors in Purchase Decision
In data that shouldn’t be surprising, quality and reliability are two of the main concerns customers have when they’re deciding on whether or not to buy a specific make and model. Here’s the list of the top 10 factors consumers evaluate:
- Interior Comfort
- Exterior Styling
- Gas Mileage
- Quality (this is really 4th, as mileage and quality are tied)
- Conveniently Located Dealership
- Vehicle Performance
- Advanced Technology
- Vehicle Image (tied for 8th with technology)
This list is for ALL vehicle buyers, not just truck buyers. If we reconcile this list with the graph above, it seems likely that truck buyers value image and performance more heavily than car buyers, and perhaps gas mileage a little less…but that’s not the interesting part.
The interesting part is that this data shows:
Advanced Technology and Great Fuel Economy Doesn’t Sell Pickups!
If we believe the data from Ford and JD Power, than we must conclude that truck buyers probably don’t care nearly as much about fancy fuel saving technology as we think they do. EcoBoost engines and Ram’s fuel-sipping V6 are all fine and good, but they likely don’t motivate buyers as much as reliability, quality, styling, and comfort.
What’s more, let me emphasize that conveniently located dealerships might be just as important to truck sales as technology. That’s amazing when you think about it, because it means that someone might buy a truck just because there’s a Ford or GM dealer in their neighborhood.
Personally, it’s hard to imagine basing my choice between Ford and Toyota (or Nissan and Ram or whatever) on my proximity to a dealer…but that’s a different discussion.
Note: Don’t get me wrong. Every buyer is unique, and there are lots of people who buy trucks purely because they have the best fuel economy, people that don’t care about styling, etc. I’m speaking in terms of the general marketplace when I say that advanced technology and fuel economy are less important.
What Does it All Mean?
To sum up:
- Truck buyers care about performance in terms of towing and hauling, not in terms of “twin turbos” or “hp per liter”
- Quality and reliability are more important to truck buyers than technology, fuel economy, or the aforementioned performance
- Styling and comfort are critical to truck sales
When you compare this list of 3 bullet points to the 2014 Tundra redesign, you see that Toyota knows exactly what they’re doing. They redesigned the Tundra to be better looking, more comfortable, and they ignored fancy new technology so that they could focus on improving what is already the industry’s best truck in terms of quality and durability (as determined by JD Power).
I’d also like to point out at this time that the Tundra pulled the Space Shuttle, which speaks to it’s performance as a towing and hauling truck.
Bottom Line: Toyota knows the truck market better than I think they do, as they focused only on the factors that really matter to truck consumers and ignored the rest. Toyota’s new Tundra might not have impressed fan boys like me, but it seems to hit all the notes that matter.
Filed Under: Buying a Tundra