Progressive Insurance’s mid-August controversy has brought the company to its lowest US consumer perception levels in more than four years.
When we examined Progressive in February, they had already been experiencing a long-term downtrend in consumer perception since fall 2010, and had been eclipsed by Allstate and State Farm. The recent car accident court case, publicized by the victim's comedian brother Matt Fisher, seems to have generated enough bad publicity to accelerate Progressive’s decline sharply. Their Buzz score bottomed out on Thursday, August 23rd with no sign of upturn yet.
To put the consumer perception situation in perspective, Progressive and its closest perception rival, Nationwide, were neck and neck on Buzz scores for 2012 through mid-August, until the court case blew up a few weeks ago. Progressive's Buzz scores fell off sharply, leaving Nationwide with more than twice the perception levels. GEICO, continuing its heavy advertising featuring the ‘lizard’ has remained well ahead of both all year.
Progressive, Nationwide and GEICO were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks “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?”
Progressive’s Buzz score fluctuated between 11 and 19 during the year until mid-August. It reached its high on July 2nd with a 19 score. On August 13th, just before word hit about Matt Fisher’s court case, their score was 14. Ten days later, they were down to 6, where they remain today.
The biggest Buzz score gap between Progressive and Nationwide in 2012 before the court case crisis was 6 points on March 14th, with Nationwide ahead 17 to Progressive’s 11 score. Now that margin is 10.
GEICO has spent most of the year with a Buzz score hovering between 18 and 21 points, currently standing at 20, four points ahead of Nationwide and 14 points ahead of Progressive.