Consumer perception of Chrysler on rise, firm finds

Posted on April 17, 2012

Consumer perception of Chrysler is on the rise in the wake of a new marketing campaign, its improving sales and recent positive media coverage of the company, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex.

The index is based on consumers’ responses to the question: Have you heard anything about Company X in the last two weeks? If yes, was it positive or negative?

YouGov calculates something called a buzz score that measures the difference between those saying they’ve heard something positive and those who heard something negative.

On Monday, Chrysler’s buzz score hit 17 — the highest since its 2009 restructuring.

The scores can range from 100 to –100. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback. Then the YouGov researchers isolated those consumers who say they plan to buy a car within the next 12 months.

The improved perception of Chrysler is stunning considering where it used to be. Back in June 2009, when Chrysler emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Chrysler’s buzz score reached a low of –41.

The newly formed Chrysler has since repaid all of the loans it owed the U.S. and Canadian governments. The only U.S. aid Chrysler has not repaid is what it received from the Bush administration.

Chrysler also launched 16 new or redesigned cars in 18 months and its U.S. sales increased 26.2% in 2011, or more than twice the industry’s increase.

However, for many consumers, Chrysler still must overcome concerns about quality and reliability because it often finishes last or close to last in studies by J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports.

Yet positive perception of Chrysler has surpassed the average score for the Detroit Three for the first time in three years, said Ted Marzilli, global managing director of YouGov’s BrandIndex.

“This is about the highest point that Chrysler has been at for brand perception in several years,” Marzilli said. “It tends to show positive momentum for the brand.”

Ford’s score was 37 on Monday while General Motors’ score was 15, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex.

However, Marzilli said Chrysler’s brand perception dropped significantly in February after its Super Bowl commercial with Clint Eastwood aired. That commercial was initially attacked by Republicans who charged that Eastwood seemed to be endorsing U.S. President Barack Obama and taxpayer assistance for the automotive industry.

More recently, Marzilli said, Chrysler has launched four new commercials with themes that are similar to the “It’s Halftime in America” Super Bowl commercial that portray average Americans struggling to overcome challenging life situations while driving Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram products.

By Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press