J.D. Power helmet study: Highly satisfied owners 10 times more likely to buy same brand

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Highly satisfied motorcycle helmet owners are about 10 times more likely to buy the same helmet brand, compared with owners with lower levels of satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study released today.

The study also ranks Arai highest in customer satisfaction for the 12th straight year. Improvements by multiple brands brought the industry’s overall satisfaction score to the highest level ever (see rankings above).

The study finds that brand loyalty is tied directly to owner satisfaction, as 41 percent of highly satisfied motorcycle helmet owners (satisfaction scores averaging higher than 900 on a 1,000-point scale) indicate they “definitely will” repurchase the same brand. Conversely, only a small percentage (4 percent) of helmet owners who are dissatisfied (satisfaction scores averaging lower than 550) say the same.

“As new-motorcycle sales have declined considerably during the past few years, the market for motorcycle helmets has also dwindled,” Todd Markusic, senior director of the powersports practice at J.D. Power and Associates, stated in a press release. “As a result, it’s more important than ever for motorcycle helmet manufacturers to ensure their current customers are highly satisfied, increasing the likelihood that they’ll return to the brand the next time they are in the market for a new helmet. Since owners typically replace their helmets every three to four years, fostering customer loyalty may bring substantial benefit to the bottom line for manufacturers.”

Regardless of the actual price paid for a new helmet, motorcycle owners who are highly satisfied with their helmet also say they believe they received a great value. Overall, 57 percent of highly satisfied helmet owners rate the value for the price they paid as “outstanding,” while only 4 percent of those with low satisfaction indicate the same.

“In addition, satisfaction levels tend to rise as the price of the helmet increases,” said Markusic. “Quite simply, motorcycle helmets appear to be a product where you truly get what you pay for, in terms of comfort and fit.”

The study measures overall satisfaction of motorcyclists with their new helmet in three key factors: ventilation, face shield, and design and styling. These three factors are comprised of 11 attributes: quietness; ventilation/air flow; defogging performance; face shield ability to keep wind out; face shield ability to resist scratching; ease of replacing face shield; scratch resistance of shell; color/graphic design; weight; ease of fastening the strap; and fit and comfort.

Arai ranks highest in customer satisfaction with a score of 836 and performs particularly well across nearly all measures. Shoei follows in the rankings with 827, while Icon ranks third with 826.

Overall industry satisfaction averages 784 in 2010, up 18 points from 2009. This is the highest level since the study’s inception in 1999. This improvement in satisfaction is driven mainly by increases in satisfaction with ventilation/air flow; fit and comfort; color/graphic design; and scratch resistance of shell. Harley-Davidson has improved considerably, up 25 points from 2009, because of increases in satisfaction with ventilation/air flow; fit and comfort; and color/graphic design. Despite ranking below the industry average, Bell and Fulmer also improved notably — up 55 points and 39 points, respectively, from 2009.

The 2010 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 4,800 purchasers of new 2009 model-year motorcycles who provided information about their most recent helmet purchase experience and helmet use. The study was fielded August through October 2009.

Posted by Arlo Redwine