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Consumer Reports Finds Shrinking Perception Gap

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On: Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 3:22PM | By: Chris Salamone

Consumer Reports Finds Shrinking Perception Gap

Hot off the presses, Consumer Reports has discovered that the gap of automaker brand perception is shrinking. The 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey, conducted at the Consumer Reports National Research Center, randomly polled 2,045 adults across the country and uncovered some shocking results: specifically that brand leaders no longer stand out like they used to.

And while the nation’s top 10 favorites include an ever-decreasing margin of favor, some folks might also be a bit surprised to see their beloved Jeep as the 8th worst perceived automaker polled.

“Dramatic events in the automotive industry seem to be affecting how consumers view auto brands,” said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports’ deputy editor for autos online. “It is harder for a single brand to stand out among the competitive field. Many brands are starting to get strong in the qualities we are asking about.”

The survey attempts to measure how consumers perceive each brand in terms of seven categories: safety, value, quality, performance, eco-friendliness, design, and technology – which explain why brands like Jeep, Mini, Fiat, Land Rover, and Suzuki were rated poorly. Consumer Reports measured brand perception relative to a broad spectrum of real world criteria and included many brands which are fantastic at niche applications but somewhat impractical in others.

Sure Toyota still achieved a commendable 131 points, but that’s a 17 point drop over last year. And other big brands, like Ford, Honda and BMW, all witnessed score decreases in excess of 20 points individually.

Consumer Reports top 10 include Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, Lexus, and Tesla (surprisingly). On the other side of the spectrum we see the lowest of the low, Saab – which at this point hardly qualifies as a brand at all.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Consumer Reports study comes from what we learned about the up-and-coming brands. This year Hyundai was found to be a mere 96 points behind Toyota, while just a year ago that gap was rated at 147 points. Indeed, these statistics present a troubling trend for the biggest automakers worldwide.

How will Toyota, Ford, or Honda account for a possible 30% loss in brand perception relative to competitors? What if these figures represented sales volumes instead of consumer opinion? The good news, of course, is that they don’t. Brand perception is nearly meaningless if consumers go out and buy the car they just spent 5 minutes bashing on a telephone survey.



Stephy21 | 11:16AM (Mon, Jan 30, 2012)

I cant believe Tesla is in this group but its good to know that alot of different brands are coming up out of the shadows.


Sami18 | 11:44AM (Mon, Jan 30, 2012)

Its a shame that the most well respected brands are going down on their appreciation in their vehicles. Ford has always been a favorite of mine but with reading this article i might have to reconsider my options.

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