German carmakers speed ahead in popularity

Stephan Shakespeare
Follow Stephan
WHILE the flocks of motor enthusiasts descending on Paris this week for the 2010 Motor Show may suggest otherwise, prospects are less than rosy for the automobile industry. During July and August there were decreases of 18.6 per cent and 12.9 per cent in like-for-like sales, compared to the same months last year.

With over 50 new models being unveiled at the Motor Show for the first time, manufacturers are still attempting to capture a slice of an increasingly small market with innovation and novelty. But YouGov’s BrandIndex indicates that concerns of quality, reputation and “impression”, in terms of generally positive or negative perceptions, remain crucial in understanding how UK consumers relate to automobile brands.

Apparently bucking the industry’s downward trend, German luxury car makers Audi, BMW and Mercedes have posted significantly better results for August than the sector average; with BMW reporting a three per cent rise in like-for-like sales compared to the same month last year. What is driving such resilience amongst “luxury” car brands?

Ongoing data gathered from contributors to suggest it is the quality, reliability and brand recognition these German manufacturers provide, that sets them apart from competition.

This is confirmed by YouGov BrandIndex tracking, in which these three brands consistently register among the highest overall “index” scores in the automobile sector. As the graph indicates, a comparison of these manufacturers with the sector median in terms of quality, reputation and general impression shows where their strengths lie. When times are hard it seems consumers trust in car manufacturer quality and reputation. This will only continue while investment for the future remains more important than the latest trend.

Stephan Shakespeare is founder and chief executive of YouGov.