Helmet buyers prefer full-face models from dealerships

By Bill Stermer Contributing Writer
This is the fourth and last in our set of articles on the J.D. Power and Associates Motorcycle Competitive Information Study (MCIS), the latest of which was conducted in 2003. Surveys were mailed to 48,456 people who had purchased new street or dual-sport motorcycle between September of 2002 through May of 2003. These results were compiled from the 11,347 usable responses (a 23.1% response rate). In the first article in this series, we explained more fully how the study was conducted.
Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for, the survey that goes to the heart of the matter as to which brands of helmets consumers like best. Unfortunately, with so many brands of helmets available, the pot becomes diluted and many brands were not mentioned in sufficient sample sizes to be included.
All questions pertain to the new on-road bike buyer’s most recent helmet purchase for him or herself.
When it comes to buying a helmet, the Dealership and Accessory Only Shop still account for more than 82% of purchases. However, the Internet has now caught and surpassed the Accessory Only Shop by a slight margin.
The Internet’s influence continues to grow, as fully 26.6% of new-bike buyers reported using it to shop. But just because riders shop on the Internet does not mean they necessarily buy there.
Obviously, many buyers purchase helmets based upon price. In this year’s edition of the survey, 55.6% of new-bike buyers reported paying $150 or less for their helmets. Of course, when you consider that about 35% of riders most recently bought half-shell or open-face helmets, those more basic helmets represents a good percentage of those low-price purchases.
We feel it’s significant that 18.3% paid $301 or more for their helmets.
Now here’s where the fiberglass hits the counter. Riders were asked mark the top three factors that influenced them to purchase a particular helmet.
One clarification here — the study also found that as the customer’s age increases, the propensity to choose a helmet based heavily upon style and color decreases. Older riders place more emphasis on comfort and fit.
As you see above, answers run from three years or under (58.9%), to the 84.1% who purchase within five years or fewer.
Overall Helmet Satisfaction
Buyers were asked to rate their helmets, on a scale of 1 to 10, on variables including quietness, ventilation, face shield, color and graphic design, weight, and fit/comfort. Those factors were combined to provide an overall satisfaction index. The higher number of points, the greater the satisfaction delivered by the helmet.
For the sixth consecutive year, the top-rated helmet in customer satisfaction was Arai. Shoei came in a close second, with the surprising Schuberth flip-up helmet a strong third.
It’s quite noteworthy that while the top three listed are premium brands, KBC and Nolan are not yet rank above the industry average. It just goes to show that you do not necessarily have to spend a lot of money to wear a helmet that will satisfy your needs.
Also please note that this study cites only those helmet brands that were represented by a sufficient sample. There are many other helmet brands on the market that scored well–or not so well — but are not included here because of small sample size.
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction. The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.
For more information about the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study (MCIS) please contact Todd Mundorf, Director, Powersports Research, in the Troy, Mich., office, 248/267-6800. psb

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