J.D. Power Releases Two Industry Studies

July 11, 2011

Consumers are playing a greater role in choosing window brands, with energy efficiency remaining a top priority, according to the J.D. Power & Associates 2011 Windows and Patio Doors Satisfaction Study, released last week. A second, separate survey of conducted by the market research firm found that builders and remodelers see products improving, but are less satisfied with the ordering process.

Simonton Windows scored highest in both J.D. Power studies. On the consumer side, Simonton was followed by Window World, Champion and Renewal by Andersen. Among builders and remodelers, Marvin ranked second and Pella third.

Consumer Findings
Now in its fifth year, the J.D. Power consumer study measures satisfaction among customers who purchased new windows or patio doors based on performance in six factors (listed in order of importance): ordering and delivery; operational performance and durability; price; appearance and design features; warranty; and repair/replacement. Customers may have installed the windows or patio doors themselves or with help from family and friends; hired an independent contractor, handyman or remodeler; used an installation service provided by a home improvement retailer; or used an installation service recommended or provided by the product manufacturer.

The study found that nearly seven in 10 customers (69 percent) selected their window brand themselves, rather than relying on a window installer or contractor to make the decision. The information sources used most often in the shopping process include past experience with a window brand (23 percent), recommendations from contractors (23 percent) and recommendations from family and friends (12 percent). When deciding between different window brands, customers most often consider price, recommendations, quality and previous experience with a brand, according to the researchers.

“To some degree, reliance on the contractor as a trusted advisor on window projects may be decreasing,” explains Jim Howland, senior director in the real estate industries practice at J.D. Power & Associates. “Increasingly, customers are using information sources such as online reviews and product websites, rather than seeking advice from a professional. Manufacturers that focus on making product features and benefits clear to the customer may be better able to differentiate themselves.”

The study found that the importance customers place on weather tightness of windows and patio doors has increased from 2010, and that the proportion of customers who indicate they purchased Energy Star-qualified windows averages 95 percent, demonstrating the strong awareness of that program in the minds of consumers and customers alike. In addition to having high levels of importance and awareness among consumers, energy-efficient window features and technologies help raise customer satisfaction levels.

Overall satisfaction with windows and patio doors averages 786 on a 1,000-point scale in 2011. However, various energy-efficient window types have considerably higher levels of satisfaction: triple-pane glass (816, on average); gas-filled panels (806); low-E glass (791); and dual-pane glass (790).

“Consumers are increasingly seeking the environmental and economic benefits that energy-efficient windows and patio doors offer, but since they may not know which products can meet their needs, it benefits manufacturers to highlight these products and features prominently,” Howland adds.

As noted, Simonton ranked highest among customers in satisfaction with windows and patio doors, achieving a score of 818. Also scoring well were Window World (807), Champion (805), and Renewal by Andersen (801). Window World was rated particularly well on warranty and price factors, while Champion did well in two factors: appearance and design features and repair and replacement. Renewal by Andersen scored particularly well in the operational performance and durability and ordering and delivery factors.

Professional Customers
Now in its sixth year, the the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Builder and Remodeler Residential Window and Patio Door Satisfaction Study measures satisfaction by evaluating performance in seven factors (in order of importance): product; price; warranty and repair service; delivery; customer service and support; ordering process; and credit/billing process. The study is designed to provide comprehensive information to assist window and patio door manufacturers in their efforts to improve the builder and remodeler experience.

While overall satisfaction remains stable from 2010—averaging 785 on a 1,000-point scale in 2011—there have been notable changes within the various factors. In 2011, satisfaction with the product factor has improved, primarily due to increased satisfaction with the appearance, finish and durability of windows and patio doors, researchers note. Improvements have also occurred in the price and delivery factors. Within the delivery factor, there has been a decrease in the proportion of orders that arrived with missing or incorrect parts.

“While manufacturers are doing a good job with providing high-quality products in a timely manner, their performance in the ordering process needs to be elevated to the same levels,” Howland notes, however. Satisfaction with the ordering process has declined significantly from 2010, tempering the gains achieved in the other factors, researchers state. In particular, builders and remodelers are notably less satisfied with the availability of products and the effectiveness of the sales and marketing materials provided.

Simonton ranked highest among builders and remodelers in satisfaction with window and patio door manufacturers for a fourth consecutive year. Simonton achieved a score of 825, performing particularly well in four of the seven factors: ordering process; delivery; warranty and repair service; and price. Following Simonton in the rankings were Marvin (812) and Pella (804). Marvin scored particularly well in the product and credit/billing process factors, while Pella did well in the customer service and support factor.

The 2011 Builder and Remodeler Residential Window and Patio Door Satisfaction Study is based on more than 2,900 evaluations from more than 1,600 new-home builders and remodelers. Each respondent evaluated up to two manufacturers of residential windows and patio doors. The study was fielded between April and June 2011. The 2011 Windows and Patio Doors Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 2,600 customers who purchased new windows or patio doors during the previous 12 months. The study was fielded in March and April 2011.