In the automobile market, there is a close link between user satisfaction with products and after-sales services and brand loyalty. It is therefore not surprising that besides regularly programmed tracking studies on product satisfaction and the satisfaction with after-sales servicing, a great deal of ad hoc satisfaction research is carried out by car manufacturers in order to define clientele satisfaction or dissatisfaction criteria, and their importance on overall satisfaction and brand loyalty. In this article, we have tried to draw lessons from the work carried out in this area by PSA PEUGEOT CITROENs Clientele Studies Division over the last two years. Of particular interest, were a group of about ten studies, serving either the objective of establishing future product specifications or that of providing the information necessary to implement the QFD method ("Quality Function Deployment") for guiding the development of product parts. We then continue by defining a series of relevant concepts: satisfaction, perceived performance, expected performance (both in the sense of desired performance and anticipated performance), perceived quality, importance and tolerance threshold. We then present a 4 step procedure: 1) identifying the criteria upon which satisfaction and dissatisfaction depend, 2) determining the general dimensions and tree structures underlying the criteria, 3) measuring the satisfaction with the different brands in terms of the criteria, and 4) measuring criterion importance. For this last step, in order to avoid problems with multi-collinearity among large numbers of independant variables, we propose a new procedure that we call "nested" regression, using a "tree structure" generated by a chain schema of satisfaction criteria. This approach enables us to go a long way towards reconciling statistical rigor with practical marketing concerns.
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