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J.D. Power and Associates’ over yearlong bid to recruit recreational vehicle owners for an independent, third-party study on consumer satisfaction still hasn’t produced a sufficient sample pool.
Recently, the company enlisted the assistance of the Good Sam Club and the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), two of the industry’s most prominent consumer clubs, to bolster its database numbers.
But, according to J.D. Power Partner Linda Schulz, the volume of samples is far below levels needed to produce a study that would provide credible information to consumers and an effective marketing tool for manufacturers.
Schulz said the Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based marketing research firm would continue to “create new ways to augment the (existing) sample” and remains “committed to the RV industry.”
“We’re in a retrenching phase,” she said. “When it became apparent that we still didn’t have an adequate sample base in January, we put the study on hold.”
Schulz added that J.D. Power also had undergone “internal restructuring,” and the study would now be headed up by Partner Ron Conlin and Todd Markusic, director of recreation.
J.D. Power’s brand is associated with a variety of markets, including marine and most notably the auto industry. The company publishes ratings of manufacturers for consumer review while also selling detailed reports to OEMs. Top-rated manufacturers can purchase the rights to use their No. 1 rating for promotional purposes.
The original RV initiative, launched in late 2003, targeted all types of RVs from model years 2000 to 2004. In addition to its own database, J.D. Power aligned with six consumer oriented, RV-specific websites to recruit participants in its “Power Panel.”
Throughout 2004, J.D. Power scaled back on the breadth of its product focus. After joining forces with FMCA and the Good Sam Club in October, the study had been narrowed to gain information on 2003 Class A and Class C motorhomes.
Schulz maintained the biggest obstacle has been the lack of a third-party clearinghouse that could provide data on RV owners.
“With other industries, we have been able to secure names through a third-party source,” she said in October, citing the Polk Co., a leading supplier of marketing information to the auto industry. “The Polk Co. gathers information through vehicle registrations. But currently they don’t maintain a list for RVs. It became a significant challenge to get enough survey participants.”
Although the J.D. Power study has failed to get off the ground, the industry’s Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence continues its efforts to monitor consumer satisfaction. In January, the committee launched the 2005 Roper/NOP World Customer Satisfaction Study.
It represents the fourth edition of the proprietary study and the third using RoperASW. In 1999, J.D. Power was hired to conduct the initial study, which is distributed to manufacturers but not the public.