HOW important is buzz? To find out, we compared three sets of BrandIndex scores – “buzz”, “quality”, and “recommend” – for three leading Japanese car brands (Nissan, Toyota, Subaru). <br /><br />Graph one shows the scatter for buzz against recommend, Graph two for buzz against quality. There is virtually no correlation between these brands’ buzz and recommend scores (0.05), but strong correlation between their recommend and quality scores (0.75). <br /><br />This demonstrates clearly that quality drives “recommend” (the measure most often linked with purchasing behaviour) much more than buzz: when consumers are thinking about cars, it seems to be their build quality, not their gizmos, that underpins their enthusiasm for the Japanese brands. <br /><br />We get the same effect for German brands (Audi, BMW, Mercedes): the correlations here are 0.35 and 0.62 respectively. Again, it suggests that the underlying brand associations built up over many years has a much stronger effect on success than the short-term excitement generated by new stories.<br /><br />So what about all the buzz around the BNP’s appearance on BBC’s Question Time? The subject dominated the airwaves for the 24 hours around the event, registering as the number one theme among the Twitterati. <br /><br />YouGov conducted a before-and-after poll, and the result was a surprise: we saw no significant rise in support for the BNP – a one-per cent move was well within the margin of error – and we actually registered a slight decline in the proportion who thought positively about them. There was also a huge majority agreeing with the BBC’s decision to have them on the programme, so a single short poll provided evidence that the BNP’s big appearance made no difference and that people predicted that their appearance would make no difference.<br /><br />Stephan Shakespeare is co founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov.