Market Force Study: CARQUEST Ranks Highest for Customer Satisfaction Among Auto Parts Retailers

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Consumer survey reveals a high level of loyalty in the auto parts industry.

auto parts retail carquest automotive

Graph 2: How Auto Parts Retailers Ranked by Attributes

Customers who are delighted by their auto parts-buying experience are more than three times as likely to recommend the store to others

Consumers are more satisfied with their experiences shopping at CARQUEST than at any other auto parts store, according to a new study by Market Force Information. The survey of 4,460 consumers also showed that they are more likely to recommend CARQUEST to others, pointing to a high degree of loyalty for the North Carolina-based brand.

When survey respondents were asked to rate how satisfied they were by their experiences at various auto parts retailers, CARQUEST came out on top, followed by NAPA, O’Reilly, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone and Pep Boys.

To gauge if high satisfaction levels drive consumer recommendations, Market Force asked respondents how likely they were to recommend these stores to others. CARQUEST was again a clear favorite, pointing to a correlation between customer satisfaction and willingness to recommend. In fact, 63% of consumers said their chances of recommending CARQUEST were a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5. NAPA ranked second with 56%, O’Reilly was third with 52%, Advance Auto Parts was fourth with 49%, AutoZone was fifth with 49% and Pep Boys ranked last out of the top retailers studied with 41%. See Graph 1.

Generally speaking, most customers were satisfied with their auto parts-shopping experiences. In fact, 86% said a sales associated assisted them, and most said they were satisfied with the help they received. Those who weren’t satisfied pointed to high prices, long wait times at the register and difficulty finding items in the store as their top three complaints.

“We’ve discovered that customers who are delighted by their auto parts-buying experience are more than three times as likely to recommend the store to others,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “With positive customer experiences directly driving recommendations and revenues, it’s imperative for retailers to provide operational excellence across the board – from their staff’s knowledge level to speedy checkout lines – in order to maintain current customers and gain new ones.”

What sets CARQUEST apart?
What factors make CARQUEST a favorite among auto parts shoppers? The company’s sales effectiveness is a major one. Among the six brands studied, respondents gave CARQUEST’s sales team the highest marks for making good recommendations, understanding customer needs and general knowledge.

CARQUEST also stood apart from the pack in areas such as cashier friendliness, checkout speed, merchandise selection and overall value. O’Reilly snagged the second spot in every category except checkout speed. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Pep Boys ranked last in all six categories, receiving the lowest marks for store atmosphere. See Graph 2.

Loyalty is a big driver in auto parts
The survey also revealed fierce customer loyalty in the auto parts industry. In fact, 78% said they were likely or very likely to drive past a competitive store to shop at their preferred auto parts retailer. See Graph 3. Not surprisingly, most (54%) said they would drive past a competitor to shop at CARQUEST, followed by O’Reilly (42%), NAPA (41%), Advance Auto Parts (41%) , AutoZone (40%) and Pep Boys (26%).

“It was unexpected to find a higher sense of loyalty in the auto parts industry than in other industries we’ve studied,” said Eden-Harris. “This could be due, at least in part, to the fact that these are high-touch sales and auto parts salespeople play a huge role in guiding purchases. Customer who have established relationships with sales associate and trust their expertise are more likely to make return visits.”

Most price-compare before buying
To ensure they’re getting the best deal possible, many consumers are researching their auto parts purchases before they head to the store. Market Force’s study found that two-thirds of shoppers compared prices ahead of time, and half checked prices at two or more locations. And, when they got to the store, most (54%) found what they needed on the shelf, and 24% were able to get the part from the stock room. Only 5% said they had to special order a part.

Survey Demographics
The survey was conducted in June 2012 across the United States and Canada. The pool of 4,460 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with approximately two-thirds reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately 43% were men and 57% were women, and 77% reported working full or part time. Half of the respondents have children at home and more than two-thirds are married.

About Market Force Information
Market Force is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. With more than 125 years of combined industry experience, Market Force Information has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions – from 600,000 field associates across North America and Europe who conduct mystery shopping, merchandising and retail auditing, to real customer surveys and proprietary decision-support tools. Its solutions provide a holistic view of the customer's on-site experience and identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. Market Force was named one of Forbes’ America’s Most Promising Companies in 2011. For more information, visit


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