Volkswagen’s cheating of the emissions tests has struck a blow to the public’s perception of its brand image, according to a study by YouGov BrandIndex UK.
The Volkswagen brand health was measured across four key indicators; index, buzz, quality, reputation and impression during the 10 day period between 18-27 September.
The results show that the public perception of the brand’s overall health saw the most dramatic decline, which is likely to be the most serious indicator for the brand according to Sarah Murphy, director YouGov BrandIndex UK.
Murphy said that “experience tells us that once this metric begins a concerted move south, a brand is in trouble as it points to it being more than a headline-generated storm in a teacup and instead being a real problem that is having a notable impact on all areas of its public perception”.
YouGov BrandIndex data has measured the immediate damage to brand perception caused by the scandal, showing a dramatic drop in ‘buzz’ scores (whether people have heard anything positive or negative about the brand) for both US and UK markets.
In the US, there has been a drop of ten points, from +10 to 0.
In the UK, VW has seen a decline from +5 to -13 in the last few days.
It is now the lowest ranked car brand in the UK in terms of ‘buzz’ (out of 34). This is a fall of 31 places in a week.
“It is basically a trust problem now, VW evidently lied to customers and the government so they are now not seen as a trustworthy company. This is compounded by the fact that their main selling point was strong, economical and environmentally friendly diesel engines.
"Once you take that out of the equation VW has lost much of its appeal,” said one independent marketing analyst.
Murphy added: "The next few days will tell us whether other YouGov measures show a decline. If metrics such as ‘Purchase Consideration’ see a drop, it could spell even more bad news for VW.
"Whether any impact will be felt by other brands will also be one to watch. Other car manufacturer’s testing results will now be examined to check for wrongdoing.
"Could it be a controversy that ends up implicating the industry as a whole? And does it spell the death knell for the diesel market? With sales of diesel cars already slowing, is the sector moving on? The next few days are sure to be key in the shaping of the automotive industry."