Prius hybrid callback continues to hit brand

Stephan Shakespeare
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YOUGOV’s BrandIndex shows a steep fall in Toyota’s reputation with consumers following a series of recent recalls of their vehicles.

The company has been plagued by a number of problems concerning the reliability of their brakes, accelerator pedals and floor mats.

Yesterday’s announcement of further recalls of the Prius Hybrid is seen as another setback for Toyota which has already had to recall 8m vehicles in the past year.

Graph 1 shows how the public’s perception of the Toyota brand has been affected, with BrandIndex “quality” scores from 22 January to 8 February 2010.

In all countries, the fall has been precipitous. The question now is at what point it flattens, and how steeply it returns to higher levels.

We’ve also been following the BrandIndex scores for the Apple brand in the aftermath of its latest product launch, the iPad.

Last week we showed the numbers for the UK, showing a rise after launch and then a drop-off.

This week we see a slightly different pattern in the US: the graph shows a confused picture, with “buzz” continuing a rising trend overall (it started dropping off post-launch in the UK), but with “quality” scores dropping, and “value” choppy.

“Value” scores (not in the graph) also decline, suggesting that attention paid to the launch actually reminded people of the high cost of the brand.

Overall, the effect of discussion around the new product is causing the public to re-evaluate the brand.

Perhaps this disruption will nevertheless remind people that Apple is the innovator, and will lead to an eventual strengthening.
Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov