One of the greatest opportunities for brands to create a memorable customer experience lies in the automobile industry. Specifically, automobile seat features improve the customer experience and enhance customer loyalty, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.

“Consumers are focusing more attention on the interior design and comfort, and the seats are a critical element of the vehicle’s interior,” said Brent Gruber, Senior Director, Global Automotive Division at J.D. Power. “Automakers and suppliers are responding by adding content and materials to the seats that create a sense of luxury and enhance the look and feel of the seating. Interior styling is an important consideration for consumers when shopping for a new vehicle.”

Gruber added: “Seats have always been an important styling element and touch point in the vehicle, but that importance is increasing as automakers try to differentiate their models in a competitive market. We expect that will continue as the industry moves toward autonomous vehicles and the seat becomes an integrated part of the evolving vehicle environment.

Automotive suppliers, the study notes, are adding technology and materials to their seats to deliver comfort and luxury to vehicle owners. Including features such as leather and heated and ventilated/cooled seats not only boosts satisfaction, but it also enhances owners’ sense of luxury with their vehicle. For example, among owners of mass market vehicles, the addition of ventilated seats increases overall seat satisfaction by 0.53 points (on a 10-point scale), on average, and lifts the perception of the vehicle’s luxuriousness by 0.87 points (on a 7-point scale.)

What’s more, seat satisfaction has an impact on intended vehicle loyalty. Among owners who rate their overall seat satisfaction 10 (on a 10-point scale), 68% say they “definitely will” repurchase the same vehicle make again. When satisfaction slips to nine, intended loyalty drops to 45%, while only 32% of owners who rate their seat satisfaction seven intend to purchase the same vehicle make again.

Among seat suppliers, Johnson Controls, Inc. received three segment awards for seat quality, while Lear Corporation received two, and Delta Kogyo Co., Ltd., Toyota Boshoku Corporation, and TS Tech Co., Ltd. received one award each.

Johnson Controls, Inc. ranks highest in the mass market compact SUV/MPV segment for the Jeep Compass; the mass market midsize/large car segment for the Toyota Camry; and the mass market truck/van segment for the Ford Super Duty (tie).

Lear Corporation ranks highest in the luxury car segment for the Porsche Cayman and the mass market truck/van segment for the Chevrolet Silverado (tie).

Delta Kogyo Co., Ltd. ranks highest in the mass market compact car segment for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Toyota Boshoku Corporation ranks highest in the mass market midsize/large SUV segment for the Toyota 4Runner. TS Tech Co., Ltd. ranks highest in the luxury SUV segment for the Acura RDX.

The 2016 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2017 model-year cars and light trucks. The study was fielded from February through May 2016.

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