KitchenAid ranks highest in satisfying owners of newly-built homes with dishwashers and ranges, while Samsung ranks highest in customer satisfaction with refrigerators, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Major Home Appliance Study.

The inaugural study measures the satisfaction of new-home owners with the performance, features, look and feel, warranty, and price of three major kitchen appliances: dishwashers, ranges/cooktops/ovens and refrigerators.

The study also explores consumer brand loyalty, where appliances were acquired, problem occurrence, warranty and repair service, and extended warranty purchase.

KitchenAid ranks highest in both the dishwasher and range/cooktop/oven segments, with exceptional ratings in the areas of performance and features, which are the most important drivers of satisfaction among new-home owners.

Also performing well among dishwasher manufacturers are Whirlpool Gold, GE Profile and GE Monogram. In the range/cooktop/oven segment, Whirlpool Gold, Frigidaire and GE Profile also perform well.

Samsung ranks highest among refrigerator manufacturers, receiving outstanding ratings from consumers in the highly important performance factor. Samsung also receives strong ratings for price. Also performing well are Kenmore Elite, KitchenAid and Whirlpool Gold.

"As the home appliance market grows increasingly competitive, quality becomes an important differentiator for consumers," said Dale Haines, director of real estate industries at J.D. Power and Associates.

"Not only can buyers purchase appliances through their home builders, they also have appliance retailers, home improvement warehouse stores, warehouse clubs and Internet offerings vying for their purchase dollars. Appliance manufacturers should take consumer perceptions of quality very seriously, since consumers can easily dismiss brands based on the wealth of information available to them, " Haines added.

The study finds that more than 90 percent of buyers of newly built homes acquired their dishwashers and ranges through their builder. However, 60 percent of buyers purchased their refrigerator through a retailer rather than the builder.

Among consumers who purchased their appliances from a retailer, 27 percent say they will definitely buy the same brand the next time they are in the market for a kitchen appliance. Only 14 percent of those who purchased from the builder say the same.

"While builders often simplify the process of purchasing appliances, there are typically fewer options in terms of brands and features for consumers," said Haines. "Consumers who purchase their appliances from a retailer are often more satisfied with the brand and model they ultimately purchased, because they had complete control over the purchase decision. This contributes to higher rates of brand loyalty."

The study also finds that consumers who purchased an extended warranty for their appliance report greater satisfaction with warranty and repair services than those who did not purchase an extended warranty.

Consumers who did not experience any problems with their appliance are more than three times as likely to purchase the same brand again in the future (23% say they "definitely" will buy the same brand again), compared to consumers who experienced at least one appliance problem (7%).

The 2005 Major Home Appliance Study is based on responses from 7,574 new-home buyers who recently purchased new kitchen appliances that were either included in the new home or purchased from a retailer.