A few days ago we published the Results of the Most Trusted Brands which we carry out annually for Reader’s Digest. In many categories, old friends stood on the winners’ rostrum as the most trustworthy brand in their respective category: for example Nivea for skin care, Persil for detergents or TUI for tour operators.
Headwind: if survey results do not please
When we published the results, however, we were occasionally greeted by ice-cold winds: participants from our panel and also the press reported with the words”This is not your seriousness? (quote). Volkswagen of all companies should be the most trustworthy brand?
Of the seventeen surveys conducted, Volkswagen was already the sixteenth time in first place in this coveted award and had not handed over its winning position to another, perhaps”spotless” brand, even a good two years after the diesel scandal.
My first impulse: I can understand the displeasure well. We’re just as surprised. However, the survey results do not come from us personally, we”only” reproduce the voice of many people. This is the great happiness of the researching company: to be able to understand and explain the thoughts of a target group or even the German population. With a representative sample of 4,000 people, the statement on the most trustworthy brand is very resilient.
Why do people trust Volkswagen now?
So we at Volkswagen got in a little deeper: Why do people trust Volkswagen? Well, they simply trust their own experience, more than media reports One in five passenger cars registered in Germany is a Volkswagen. A corresponding number of VW drivers are included in the representative sample.
And their experience with their VW is – partly for generations – positive. If you are satisfied with your car for years or even decades, because it travels reliably from A to B and the associated garage doesn’t let you down, you won’t change your mind that quickly. Especially not with a durable product such as the automobile.
These are the main arguments for trust in the brand in the automotive category: 1. the own experience (46 %), 2. constant controls (13 %) and 3. longevity of the product (9 %).
Media image versus behaviour
All media reports, including their waves of indignation, appear to be less relevant to the VW driver. The same seems to be confirmed by the Group figures: The Slump in sales figures in Germany is within reason. And instead of migrating in droves, consumers remain loyal to the brand to a very high degree. Because they still have confidence in the brand
When asked whether they want to switch to another car brand, VW fans tend to be even more loyal than other brand owners. Only just under one in ten drivers is planning a brand change (11 % VW fans, 13 % other brands).
Despite everything: Brand confidence declines overall
Nevertheless, all brands lose confidence overall. Not only at VW – the levels are falling in almost all markets. Consumers are unsettled by scandals.
In the”confidence index”, the automotive market is only mediocre: Only four out of ten consumers express a high level of confidence in car manufacturers. For comparison: mineral water is six out of ten. Household appliances, tea, detergents or pharmaceuticals show a significantly higher level of consumer confidence than the automotive market.
What will determine future success
One of the biggest challenges in the future will be for many suppliers to offer honest and authentic products. Especially in times of digitalization, the handling of the collected data will increasingly represent a measure of trust in brands. This affects the automotive industry much earlier than many other markets, since automotive networking and data recording is very relevant for future technologies such as autonomous driving.
Investments in the authentic management of a brand are necessary and should be on the strategic agenda – not only in marketing, but also at the top management level of a company. Not only because we at VW see how customers can cushion out such a gigantic, globally present crisis, “only” because the brand development was successful and a high degree of stability could be conveyed in advance.
Reporting on Most Trusted Brands:
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