American new vehicle buyers, regardless of age, are consistently more loyal to Asian brands compared with European and domestic makes, according to an RL Polk & Co study.

Owner loyalty increases as the head of household gets older, Polk noted.

For the 2006 model year, overall make loyalty for the industry was 44.4%. While domestic makes were close to the industry average with 43.5%, for Asian makes, it was 47.6% and European brands 37.3%.

“The largest increase in make loyalty came from Asian brands, when comparing buyer activity over the past two model years,” said Lonnie Miller, Polk’s director of industry analysis. “There was an additional 41% of returning Asian brand customers who bought within that vehicle community again.”

While owners aged 65 and older typically rated the highest for brand loyalty (50.5%), the data showed they only represent 13.4% of new owners returning to the market for another new vehicle. Just over 75% of those returning to market were between 35 and 64 years of age, which accounted for a core buyer base for almost any brand.

“Automakers and their marketing partners should consider these findings when communicating with different age groups,” said Miller. “While it can’t be taken as a ’cause and effect’ issue, there’s definitely a strong relationship between the age and the degree of loyalty we see to a given brand.”

Comparisons between 2004 and 2006 model years indicated brand loyalty across age groups rises as the age of the head of household increases.

“As consumers age and progress through different vehicles, it makes sense that they learn more and have more meaningful experiences that would cause their loyalty to increase,” said Miller.  “However, strong levels of cross-shopping are not always valuable to consumers, depending on the experience. In the end, this can help brand loyalty.”

The 2006 model year study covered over 6.5m new vehicle owning households in the US.