In the thick of one of the worst crises in General Motors history, the carmaker’s consumer perception seems to have hit bottom in the middle of April, and has begun to make a modest rebound.
GM’s perception drop was not as immediate as the drop that Toyota experienced during its well-publicized 2010 recalls (both companies had to testify before Congress). GM’s apparent low point is only half the level of Toyota’s nadir. Despite the small upturn, GM is still well into negative territory.
Chevrolet, which manufactured the Cobalt vehicles said to have faulty ignition switches, has also seen its consumer perception drift downwards, but nowhere near as steeply as parent company GM. Chevrolet is now tracking at a neutral perception position. Chevy’s perception was significantly above the perception average for the domestic auto sector before the crisis, but sunk below that average after mid-March.
GM and the domestic auto sector were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks respondents "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" All respondents were age 18 and over.
YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score range is from 100 to -100 and is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
For a little more than the first two months of this year, GM was tracking at around an 8 or 9 Buzz score, two or three points below the domestic auto sector average. GM began its slide around February 11th, taking about eight weeks to hit the apparent bottom of a -33 Buzz score (versus Toyota in 2010, which reach a -63 score in a little over four weeks). GM is presently at -26.
Chevrolet spent most of the first six weeks of 2014 in the 17 to 19 Buzz score range, several points above the domestic auto sector average. Chevy went below that average at the very end of March, going as low as -2 around April 15th, and now tracking at the neutral mark of zero.