Satisfaction with motorcycle helmets in 2010 is the best it’s been in the last decade, beating out the previous record holder: 2009.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study, the overall industry satisfaction average is 784 out of 1000, up 18 points from 2009 — which was previously the highest average since the study’s inception in 1999.
In fact, helmet satisfaction has improved steadily since the 2002 study.
The improvement has been driven by increases in satisfaction with ventilation/air flow, fit and comfort, color/graphic design and the scratch resistance of shells, J.D. Power reports.
Joe Mooney, C.O.O. at Marshall Distributing, said helmets were behind the times but have started to catch up. As an example, he said automatic tinting sunglasses have been around for 15 years, but the technology only came to helmets in the last couple of years.
“In just the last couple of years, helmets have improved a lot,” he said. “And in the next six months, you'll see helmets available with significant technological advances.”
As in past years, the No. 1 factor behind helmet purchasing decisions is comfort, with 32.1 percent of respondents listing this as the most influential factor in their decision. And in 2010, the average helmet rating improved to 8.32, up from 8.18 last year.
That improvement wasn’t surprising to Chuck Herman, national sales Manager at Marshall.
“Helmet technology has grown by leaps and bounds,” Herman said. “They don't fit like a cardboard box anymore.”
He also noted that safety and comfort don't have to be a trade off, and that with new materials being developed all the time, he doesn't think helmets have come close to as comfortable or light as they can be.
The No. 2 factor influencing purchases is helmet style/color, with 24 percent of respondents listing this as the most important aspect of their buying decision. Satisfaction with styling/design improved to 8.21 out of 10, up from 8.05 in 2009.
Safety (17.8 percent) and price (13.6 percent) were the next most important factors behind the purchase decision, followed by reputation for quality/durability (6.1 percent), and past experience with the brand (5.5 percent), ease of changing the face shield (0.6 percent) and racing sponsorship (0.3 percent).
The study shows that 25.7 percent of respondents paid less than $100 for their helmet, 26.7 percent paid between $100-$150, 18.1 percent between $151-$250, 22.7 percent between $251-$499 and 6.8 percent paid more than $500. The average price paid was $206.40.
The median price paid for a helmet remain $150, the same as in 2009, but the overall rating customers gave for value improved to 7.76, up from 7.46 last year.
Herman said it helps that customers are getting a far better product even at the low end.
“Entry level helmets are far better quality then they were before, so more consumers are getting a better quality helmet,” he said.
As has been the trend in recent years, more customers are researching and buying their helmets online. In 2010, 42.5 percent of respondents used the Internet as a source of information for purchasing their new helmets, up from 36.3 percent in 2009.
In terms of actual online sales, close to 20 percent of customers purchased their helmets online, up from 17.2 percent last year.
However, the vast majority of helmets — 60.2 percent — were purchased at a traditional dealership.
Brand loyalty remains strong, with 84.6 percent of respondents saying they “definitely” or “probably” will purchase the same brand of helmet the next time they’re in the market for one, which is up from 61.83 percent in 2009.
The largest percentage of respondents polled (30.7 percent) said they purchase a helmet every two years, with the average length for all respondents being more than three years.
Other helmet ratings include: 6.99 on quietness (up from 6.74), 7.47 on ventilation/air flow (up from 7.26), 7.46 overall ventilation (up from 7.29), 7.21 on de-fogging performance (up from 7.04), 8.36 on the ability of face shields to keep the wind out (up from 8.29), 7.59 on the face shield's ability to resist scratching (up from 7.36), 7.93 on the ease of replacing a face shield (up from 7.74), 7.98 on the overall rating of the face shield (up from 7.89), 7.39 on the scratch resistance of the shell (up from 7.14), 8.12 on color/graphic design (up from 7.96), 7.91 on weight (up from 7.74) and 7.8 on ease of fastening the strap (up from 7.66).
The 2010 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 4,800 purchasers of new 2009 model year motorcycles who provided information about their most recent helmet purchase experience and helmet use. The study was fielded August through October 2009. psb
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