Early indications suggest that Toyota's brand health may recover faster than originally feared from the damage inflicted by the recall of several million vehicles across the world.
Immediately following the announcement and subsequent negative press coverage, Toyota's brand perception scores dropped dramatically from being one of the highest ranked automotive brands tracked in BrandIndex to one of the worst. Toyota's overall ranking (combining all the BrandIndex measures excluding 'Buzz') fell from 7th out of 50 car brands at the beginning of December to 40th at the end of February.
However, in the subsequent weeks since the announcement, the sharp declines seen in almost all BrandIndex measures have started to level out, particularly those focusing on the quality and reputation of the Toyota brand. For example, the General Impression of the brand, which fell from a net positive score of 34% in mid-January to a low of -11% on 19th February, has not continued to deteriorate at the same pace and has actually recovered slightly to -9% according to the latest data.
Ray Martin, Head of Products at YouGov in the UK commented “Given the extent of Toyota's initial decline, it will be interesting to see whether this leveling out of the scores is the start of a recovery, assuming there is no more bad news around the corner.”
One score that has not seen such a marked decline is Satisfaction among recent customers of the brand, suggesting that those consumers who actually drive Toyota vehicles still feel positively toward the brand. Over the same period, the Satisfaction scores have only declined by 2 percentage points, from 10% in mid January to 8% at the end of February.
Ray Martin, continued “It does seem that the damage is being felt less acutely among Toyota's own customers, who are retaining their faith in the brand. The challenge will be to rebuild this level of confidence among the general public as a whole.”