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: Autoblog: Detroit automakers still grapple with perception gap

09-28-2007, 08:29 AM (
Detroit automakers still grapple with perception gap
by Jonathon Ramsey

"Import intenders" is the term used for car buyers who don't even consider domestic vehicles when planning their next purchase. And according to J.D. Power, they make up 54-percent of car buyers. In spite of Detroit's efforts, and in spite of improving testing scores, the Big Three have been unable to sway those buyers to their brands.

When Ford's ad agency put on a promotion called Swap My Ride, ordinary folks who drove Ford vehicles for a week raved about them. Buick just joined Lexus at the top of the J.D. Power long-term reliability survey. Yet when market research firm CNW holds focus groups with cars that have all of their branding removed, if people think the car is American their opinion of it automatically drops -- even if they're talking about a Toyota Camry. Having driven the new Cadillac CTS, which is a very good car, the biggest hurdle the brand will face when trying to lure BMW buyers is not the quality of the CTS -- it's the word "Cadillac."

There are a host of potential reasons for the reflex judgment of American cars = lesser quality. Detroit is building better cars than the ones that created the perception in the first place, but Ford, GM, and Chrysler aren't having much luck changing it.

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09-28-2007, 09:34 AM
Thank you for this. I've often wondered if any organization actually tested perception by removing badges on vehicles.

10-05-2007, 12:33 PM
I had a thread on GMI about Ford either developing 1-or-more mini-brandlets
or grouping their offerings; small cars = FLX, Fusion & larger = ACE, & trucks of course
and using those groupings for demographic-specific more-than-just-one-model advertising
then just refer to the overall lineup as "the Ford family"... double-meaning and good connotations imho