Volkswagen has had better weeks. As the first major car maker caught up in the diesel emissions scandal, the public’s feelings towards the previously loved German marque have plummeted.
YouGov’s Buzz score – measuring whether people have heard positive or negative news about the brand in the past two weeks – has declined over 70 points. VW’s Impression score – gauging whether people feel positively or negatively about it – has fallen by more than 60 points.
Its Reputation score has declined by almost 40 points and its Quality score has fallen off by 25 points. Most seriously, Volkswagen’s Index score, which indicates overall brand health, has gone from a very positive number to a deeply negative figure in a week.
But how quickly will the brakes be put on the decline, and when will Volkswagen recover its standing?
I have looked at data covering the last time a major car brand was rocked by a scandal – in 2010 when Toyota recalled cars after they were found to have faulty brakes.
Comparing Toyota’s and Volkswagen’s Index scores over the first few days of their respective crises shows that the slide in both manufacturers’ brand health followed the same trajectory. However, VW’s has subsequently collapsed further and faster. This is because Volkswagen’s situation is more serious as, from a corporate perspective, there is little worse than deliberately misleading customers, the authorities and the public.
This is not a crisis based on negative coverage that will go away soon. The question is: will anyone else get dragged in?