When General Motors discontinued its Saturn and Pontiac brands in 2009, it lost the faith of many consumers: The majority of owners of those vehicles have since replaced them with non-GM products. According to the Detroit News, two-thirds of Saturn drivers and three-quarters of Pontiac owners who replaced their vehicles have switched to non-GM cars since 2009.
GM is reportedly eager to regain those customers, hoping to get them into Chevrolet dealerships with incentive pricing and free-maintenance offers. From March 2010, GM offered $1000 off the price of new GM vehicles to owners of Saturns and Pontiacs; in January and February 2011, the offer was extended to owners of any GM vehicle.
Figures from J.D. Power & Associates show that customers of discontinued GM brands don’t often buy new GM products. In 2010, GM kept just 39 percent of Pontiac owners, 26 percent of Saturn owners, and only 39 percent of Hummer customers. The News reports that the industry averages a 48-percent brand retention rate.
Some of those customers have left for other, import brands because they felt disappointed by GM’s decision to kill off certain brands; others may not find equivalent vehicles in the Chevrolet, GMC, or Cadillac lineups.
“The truth of the matter is they didn't have many options for people to stay in the GM family,” J.D. Power analyst Steve Witten told the News. “There wasn't really another GM brand similar enough from an image standpoint.”
Witten cites Saturn buyers who gravitated to the brand’s distinct image. J.D. Power reports that over a third of them have since purchased Ford, Honda, or Toyota vehicles.
Ford reportedly fared better when it killed off the Mercury brand, with 46 percent of those customers since buying a new Ford product.
Source: Detroit News