Market Overview

"Which Cars Have Highest Value among Buyers? Those with Innovation," Says Strategic Vision


Strategic Vision's recent research study not only determined the leading vehicles and corporations in Total Value (Volkswagen, Hyundai, Honda and Ford respectively), but after vetting over 350 new vehicles and over 77,000 owners using its comprehensive Total Value Index® (TVI) study, it also examined the correlation between how buyers rated innovation and what brands were leaders in Total Value over time. The result shows that, “innovation is the strongest single predictor of which cars, brands and corporations are seen as the best value, or Total Value in our study,” says Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision.

“For some, this may be counter-intuitive to the word ‘value' in its most simple definition. But, when we looked at our Innovation Factor Score (IFS) and trended it, the results were much like a crystal ball. Value is viewed as a far cry from the cheapest car with the best MPG. We looked at the major corporations by their IFS, and the results spoke loudly. Hyundai Corporation (which includes the Kia Brand) increased its IFS by 20 points since 2008, and today its Total Value segment leaders Elantra, Sonata and Equus have some of the highest scores in the entire industry. Kia Sportage and Sorento were also segment leaders. The same can be said for other brands that are improving in value and sales. However, there is a caveat. It's not just innovation, but ‘True Innovation™' that is the crystal ball that gives us the insight,” concludes Edwards.

Strategic Vision's sixteenth annual Total Value Index study revealed the industry corporate success of #1 Volkswagen Group of America with its seven segment winners: Golf, Jetta Wagon, CC, Eos and with Audi A3 Wagon, Q5 and Q7. Number three American Honda Motor continues to do well in Total Value, but did not have the increasingly important leading Innovation Factor Score that foreshadows leading Value.

“Corporations like Honda still do well, but must be careful when the driving force in the algorithm for their score is mostly Resale Value and MPG factors. Both of these factors are important, but are increasingly becoming ‘up-for-grabs' to the accelerated competition,” says Darrel Edwards, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Strategic Vision. “Quality is at the base of Value, but in looking for that key influencing factor that most heavily predicts future success, True Innovation will be the common denominator of the winners. ‘True Innovation' is a phrase coined by J. Susan Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of Strategic Vision. True Innovation is innovation that is rich and impactful, intuitive, motivational, in-depth and is able to trigger description by the user in great specificity. True Innovation is what we measure, along with 442 other data points. Understanding True Innovation reveals trend setting and what will be of Value, and later purchased.” explains Dr. Edwards.

Ford Motor Company may have experienced some innovation growing pains with SYNC, but there's little question that buyers are appreciating the overall innovation and value benefits, as can be seen in segment leaders Flex, F150, F250/350 and six other models that all finish in the top four vehicles of their respective segments. Even vehicles with perhaps modest sales have an important message to notice. This is why Chevrolet Volt received the Special Category Leader recognition in Strategic Vision's TVI study. The Volt has the second highest Total Value score in the industry, and along with short and long term economic factors being strong, it had an IFS of 93 or nearly perfect innovation, as viewed by its buyers. If Volt had been seen as more Affordable to Buy, sales figures would likely have been more reflective of its high Total Value score.

The Chrysler/Dodge brands receive recognition for being the Most Improved (+41 points on a 1000 point scale) in Total Value as rated by customers. Again, a strong direct correlation to this improvement is an Innovation Factor Score that is the lowest among companies in 2011, improving to nearly industry average in just one year! Other Total Value winners of note were the Land Rover Evoque Coupe and the Lexus ES 350. The Honda Ridgeline has been the Total Value winner among standard size pickups each year since being introduced, with Odyssey being a five-year consecutive leader among minivans.

Strategic Vision furthers leading-edge research through large quantitative studies that reveal highly actionable industry trends. Additionally, in-depth “one-on-one” qualitative studies are constantly used to augment and validate discoveries, along with hidden leverage, and providing winning platforms for communication and product directions. Strategic Vision used in-depth insights to discover leverage for the cab-forward designs introduced by Ford in the 1980s that were being rejected in focus groups. This was exemplified by the discovered reality of the innovation of the fourth door and fold-away third row seats on the minivan that were being rejected after all ordinary research methods revealed little innovation or leverage in these additions.

Strategic Vision has presented Total Value Awards® annually since 1995. Based on Strategic Vision's quantitative “ValueCentered” NVES® study, the Total Value Index was calculated from 77,153 buyers who purchased models during September 2011 to June 2012. The following list contains the number one ranked vehicles in Total Value in their segments as rated by new vehicle buyers:

Small Car           Hyundai Elantra Sedan           806
Small Multi-Function Volkswagen Golf 775
Medium Car Hyundai Sonata 824
Medium Multi-Function Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 759
Larger Car Volkswagen CC 805
Near-Luxury Car Lexus ES 350 814
Luxury Car Hyundai Equus 839
Luxury Multi-Function Audi A3 Wagon / Porsche Panamera 789 / 787

Small Specialty (<$28,000)

MINI Cooper Coupe 832
Premium Coupe (>$28,000) Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 816
Mid-Specialty Car Honda Accord Coupe 762

Convertible (<$30,000)

Volkswagen Eos 778
Convertible (>$30,000) BMW Z4 836
Minivan Honda Odyssey 753
Small SUV Kia Sportage 776
Medium SUV Kia Sorento 776
Medium Crossover Ford Flex 765
Large SUV GMC Yukon XL 752
Near Luxury SUV Audi Q5 / Land Rover Evoque Coupe 781 / 780
Luxury SUV BMW X6 / Audi Q7 827 / 825
Standard Pickup Honda Ridgeline 730
Full-Size Pickup Ford F150 738
Heavy Duty Pickup Ford F250/350 728
Special Category Leader Chevrolet Volt 835

Strategic Vision is a research-based consultancy with over thirty-five years of experience in understanding the consumers' and constituents' decision-making systems for a variety of Fortune 100 clients, including most automotive manufacturers. Its unique expertise is in identifying consumers' comprehensive motivational hierarchies, including the product attributes, personal benefits, value/emotions and images that drive perceptions and behaviors. The ValueCentered psychology and research methods were defined by Dr. Darrel Edwards in 1968, and enhanced by co-founders J. Susan Johnson (1972) and Sharon Shedroff (1975). For further information and insight, contact Alexander Edwards or Christopher Chaney at (858) 576-7141 or visit

Strategic Vision
Alexander Edwards / Dr. Darrel Edwards

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