Luxury and Full Line Cars Show Post Recession Gains, Finds 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study


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Kelley Blue Book and Mercedes-Benz are repeat Brands of the Year; Harley-Davidson and Toyota also earn Brand of the Year distinction

NEW YORK--May 7, 2013: As Americans lift themselves out of an economic slump, findings from the 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend (EQ) study show consumers' perceptions of automotive brands continue to climb. More than 30 auto brands were assessed this year, and both the luxury and full line auto categories improved. These are among the findings based on the 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend Brand Equity Index, which is comprised of three key factors: Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration.

Mercedes-Benz is the Luxury Automotive Brand of the Year for the third year running, edging out BMW. Findings from the 25th annual study show that, overall, luxury automotive brands saw EQ scores increase.

"After hitting the brakes on spending during the height of the recession, consumers have re-entered the automotive market in 2013 with a pent up demand for luxury brands," explains Mike Chadsey, Vice President, Solutions Consultant at Harris Interactive. "Brand equity for almost half of the luxury automotive brands measured is at all-time study highs."

Other brands that continue to be ranked above the luxury category average include Lexus, Acura and Infiniti. In addition, Porsche, which is measured for the first time in 2013, ranks above the average, while Audi moves ahead of the category average for 2013.

Luxury Automotive brands ranked above category average:

Mercedes-Benz Vehicles -- Luxury Automotive Brand of the Year

BMW Vehicles

Lexus Vehicles

Acura Vehicles

Infiniti Vehicles

Porsche Vehicles

Audi Vehicles

Other Luxury Automotive brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): Cadillac Vehicles, Jaguar Vehicles, Land Rover Vehicles, Lincoln Vehicles, Tesla Vehicles, Volvo Vehicles

"This is a clear indicator that while consumers may postpone purchases, the perceived value of high quality luxury autos actually increased, as demand did not go away and other luxury models closed the gap on Mercedes-Benz," Chadsey goes on to say.

The study also shows that full line auto brands have made significant gains. As the top four full line automotive brands continue to vie for Brand of the Year status, Toyota moves out front for the first time since 2010 to become the 2013 Full Line Automotive Brand of the Year.

"Over the last nine years, Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet and Ford have all fought for the top spot, and each has claimed it at least once," says Chadsey.

Toyota has been the most consistently top ranked brand in the study's recent years, capturing the top spot five out of the last nine years. "Toyota's strategy of listening to its owners, fast response, accountability and transparency in communication is a textbook case of brand management," comments Chadsey. "This, coupled with strong demand for quality, value and fuel economy, finds Toyota aligned strongly with consumer desires."

Of the 16 full line automotive brands measured, only five rank above the category average. Behind Toyota, Honda, last year's top ranked brand, comes in second, with Chevrolet, Ford and Nissan rounding out those above the category average.

Full Line Automotive brands ranked above category average:

Toyota Vehicles -- Full Line Automotive Brand of the Year

Honda Vehicles

Chevrolet Vehicles

Ford Vehicles

Nissan Vehicles

Other Full Line Automotive brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): Buick Vehicles, Chrysler Vehicles, Dodge Vehicles, Fiat Vehicles, Hyundai Vehicles, Kia Vehicles, Mazda Vehicles, MINI Cooper Vehicles, Mitsubishi Vehicles, Subaru Vehicles, Volkswagen Vehicles

Online Auto Shopping

For Americans considering a new luxury or full line automobile, the shopping process has to begin somewhere -- and for many that somewhere is online. It has never been easier for Americans to shop for automobiles, with continued strong performance by Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com), which once again is at the top of its category as the 2013 Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year.

"KBB benefits from strong name recognition, top of mind awareness and familiarity as the 'go-to' site for shopping," offers Chadsey. "Additionally, KBB remains a thought leader in auto markets through publishing its own research and automotive awards."

Edmunds maintains its second place ranking, behind KBB and ahead of the category average.


Online Auto Shopping brands ranked above category average:

Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com) -- Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year

Edmunds.com

Other Online Auto Shopping brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, eBay Motors

Among the two wheel contenders, Harley-Davidson regains its top spot as the 2013 Motorcycle Brand of the Year, with strong year-over-year improvement, followed by Honda, which also experienced solid gains for 2013 and out-performed the category average.

Motorcycle brands ranked above average:

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles -- Motorcycle Brand of the Year

Honda Motorcycles

Other Motorcycle brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): Kawasaki Motorcycles, Suzuki Motorcycles, Yamaha Motorcycles

Harris Poll EquiTrend Methodology

A sample of 38,814 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over were surveyed online by Harris Interactive from January 11 through February 8, 2013 and the survey took an average of 35 minutes to complete. The sample was from the Harris Interactive online panel of respondents, a database consisting of over a million cooperative respondents who have double-opted in to be randomly invited by Harris Interactive to take part in online surveys. The total number of brands rated was 1,511. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 40 randomly selected brands. Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data were weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. population of consumers ages 15 and over based on age by sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online. This is the same precision weighting approach Harris has used to become the leading online polling organization when calling elections.

The Brand Equity Index is the keystone to the EquiTrend program providing an understanding of a brand's overall strength. A brand's Equity is determined by a calculation of Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. Brand of the Year is determined by a simple ranking of brands.

An academic study recognized the Harris Poll EquiTrend Brand Equity model as a proven predictor of stock performance during the 2008 financial downturn, and thus was validated as a new tool to help investors and analysts hedge market investments. The results of the academic study findings appear in the September 2012 issue of the International Journal of Research in Marketing in the paper titled, "The Performance of Global Brands in the 2008 Financial Crisis: A Test of Two Brand Value Measures." The paper was authored by Johny K. Johansson, Claudiu V. Dimofte and Sanal K. Mazvancheryl.

The Harris Poll EquiTrend study results disclosed in this release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Interactive.

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