Euro NCAP Consumer Car Buying Survey 2005

Euro NCAP recently commissioned Market & Opinion Research International (MORI) to carry out a survey across Europe to identify the most important aspects influencing consumer choice when making a purchasing decision.

Euro NCAP was interested in identifying how much safety concerns played a part in the decisions made by consumers and the extent to which consumers relied upon the information provided by Euro NCAP.

Key aspects influencing choice

First of all, it must be recognised that price and function play a primary role in the choice made by consumers. A household with three dependent children may not be expected to choose a two-seater sports car as their principal vehicle. Respondents were consequently asked to consider the most important aspects that affect their decision, once they had found the appropriate type and price segment that suited their needs.

The survey showed overall that “Safety” was the most important aspect influencing their choice. This was closely followed by “Reliability.” Germany and Great Britain were the only countries where consumers placed reliability, just ahead of safety.

The next most important aspects were “Performance/Road holding” and “Running costs.” In all countries, these two aspects were placed in either third or fourth place. Much lower in importance were, “Prestige and Quality,” “Styling” and “Air Conditioning”, followed by “Audio systems” and “Satellite navigation.” The survey showed that “Styling” was more of an influence on respondents in the ‘new’ EU Member countries (Czech Republic 78%, Poland 77%) compared to other countries (66% overall).

Safety aspects influencing choice

A common assumption is that car buyers are not interested in pedestrian protection. When asked what aspects of safety would influence their choice, protection of child pedestrians was claimed to influence choice by 61% and for the protection of adult pedestrians it was 56%.

As expected, 83% thought that protection for drivers and front seat passengers was important. The protection of rear seat passengers and children were seen as slightly less important influences, at 71% and 70% respectively.

Sources of safety information

Overall, 47% sought safety information prior to buying a new car. Only German respondents exceeded this figure, at 70%. Their high interest alone was sufficient to significantly affect the average. The next most enquiring were the Czech Republic (44%), Poland and Great Britain (42%). Of those who brought cars, 57% sought safety information and of those influencing choice, 56% did so.

Car magazines (20%), Friends and acquaintances (19%) and Newspapers and TV (17%), were the major sources of safety information. In Germany, the use of information from car magazines (39%), newspapers and TV (37%) was much higher than it was elsewhere.

Euro NCAP was infrequently cited as the source of safety information (2%). However, it may be that Euro NCAP information is frequently being provided through other sources. Of those who did consult Euro NCAP information, 76% were car buyers. Once aware of Euro NCAP, 34% of respondents said that they would use its information in the future.

Role of respondents

Of those interviewed, 50% claimed to both choose and buy their own car. A further 20% claimed that they influenced the buying decision, 13% as a driver and 7% as a passenger. The remainder did not influence the choice, had no regular use of a car or answered “Don’t know.”

Influence of gender on choice

Men and women were seen to be equally interested in Safety. However, men were slightly more interested in Reliability and Performance/Road holding than women. Men were also more frequently responsible for choosing and buying the car, 68% compared with 34%.

Men were slightly more influenced by the protection of drivers and front seat passengers, 85% compared with 82%. Women were slightly more influenced by the protection of babies and children, 72% compared with 68%. Again women were a little more influenced by pedestrian protection. For child pedestrians, it was 63% compared with 59%. For adult pedestrians it was 58% compared with 54%. All of these differences are small and are perhaps less than expected.

Influence of age on choice

Consumer interest in Safety was seen to be slightly less amongst the elderly, 82% for those over 75 years old, compared with 92% for those aged 65 to 74 and 94% overall.

Those in middle age (45 – 54 years) were a little more influenced by driver and front passenger protection, 86% compared with 83%. Whereas, those most influenced by rear seat passenger protection were in the 35 – 45 year age group, 78% compared with 71%. Concern over pedestrian protection peaked at 55 – 64 years, 60% compared with 56%.

Influence of income on choice

Higher income groups gave marginally more importance to Safety (96%) and Reliability (97%) compared to lower income groups (89% and 88% respectively). Higher earners also placed greater importance on the safety of the driver and front seat passengers (91%) compared to lower income groups (73%). Of note was the difference between the income groups in relation to the safety of babies and child passengers – high earners (74%) and lower income (56%). Again, higher earners were also more influenced by concerns about child (67%) and adult (60%) pedestrian protection than lower earners (43% and 40% respectively).

The context to the survey

The survey was carried out in seven European countries, between July and September 2005, by MORI. France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy were chosen as they represent the four largest car markets in the EU. Portugal represents a Mediterranean country and the Czech Republic and Poland represent two of the new Member States.

Those people below the age of 18 years (17 for Great Britain) were excluded from the survey. In total around 1000 adults were interviewed, either “face to face” or by telephone, in each country. The pilot survey was carried out in Great Britain, so there were just over 2000 respondents from there. For the analysis, MORI have weighted the data to known population profiles.

29 November 2005 Staff

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