Car Companies in Brand Attachment Survey

A brand attachment survey has just been released in the United States. It covers all brands (plus products that are considered brands in themselves, such as the iPhone) but there were a lot of car brands in the top 100.

The LEAP Index aims to measure how much consumers love brands in a bid to help marketers to predict purchasing behaviour. The poll uses results from a survey of 3500 Americans with annual income of more than ,000 a year.

The automotive companies in the Top 100 and their respective placings were as follows:

3rd – Infiniti
6th – Cadillac
13th – BMW
14th – Audi
15th – Mercedes Benz
16th – Land Rover
21st – Jaguar
24th – Lexus
25th – Acura
26th – Honda
31st – Toyota
32nd – Mazda
33rd – Hyundai
35th – Jeep
41st – Ford
42nd – Nissan
43rd – Chevrolet
53rd – Buick
58th – Chrysler
65th – GM
74th – Dodge


Initial observations from my office chair:

  • Honda gets absolutely no kick from Acura like most other companies get from their premium labels.
  • Jeep are way lower than expected.
  • Those German premium brands just love a good huddle.
  • If the newspaper I got this from is correct and there’s no Volkswagen in the Top 100, then you’ve got to start asking validity questions.
  • I’m sure Cadillac’s position tells me something about taste, common sense and other things, I’m just unsure as to what it is.


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  1. This is a pretty small group if you are to make predictions?
    And, also, why only ask the ones making a good salary now? Why not include the ones who will be the futures buyers, the ones yet to get a good salary?


    1. They have to qualify the respondents in some way to make it meaningful. Remember, this is ALL consumer brands, and many of the brands aim only for those with disposable income. Those brands are paying for at least a portion of this study.

  2. I’m not convinced by the methodology. With 3500 people surveyed, most brands will only have a handful of hits. It only takes a few positives or negatives to swing the results either way.

    For instance, Audi and Infinity both have roughly 1% market share in the US, so the survey found 35 owners of each brand. You can swing the results just by catching a few of them on a sunny or rainy day.

    The Jeep results reflect the fact that gas prices were high this summer. Jeep could improve their scores with better mileage, and odds are good that they will when the Liberty replacement comes out in the spring.

  3. Actually, contrary to what you may imagine, 3500 respondents gives you a 99% confidence level with a 2.2% margin for error for a population of 200,000,000 (the number of cars in the United States).

    (See a typical sample size calculator here.)

    I agree that the smaller the marque, the less valid the results will be, but that’s the nature of all statistics for everything.

    Additionally, the fact that all of these brands are in the top 100 for buyer recognition/positive reaction is GREAT. You cannot overestimate how many consumer brands there are in the US (or any developed nation). Even at 75, Dodge, with all of their nagging quality issues, has to be ecstatic. My guess is that the responses for all ‘top 100’ brands were pretty significant.

    As far as VW is concerned, yes, I’d be a bit nervous about this survey because they aim for the masses. VW is not a performance brand, nor is it a luxury brand. It needs to be in the mix. Subaru, on the other hand, is a performance brand of sorts with their AWD/rugged/reliability bent. Volvo isn’t on the list, either, and I’m not sure about what that says about them, but my guess is that the Volvo brand is muddled in the US these days. They have recently had too many vehicles in their line up (three SUVs, three sedan/wagon lines, convertible and a small car) and they are probably not building the brand around a specific core value with their communication as a result. (I’m sure the Joeren will enlighten me.)

    Finally, about Cadillac: This is the United States. Cadillac is a storied and well-loved brand for better or worse. When I was growing up, it stood for the best that you could get. In those days, ‘best’ meant biggest, most toys, most luxury. It still stands for ‘premium’ in all walks of life in the US, whether we car geeks like it or not. That is, Cadillac’s standing has much less to do with the technology or quality of the cars than it does with the historic meaning for those that don’t pay attention to cars like we do.

    This is a

    1. Agreed. As much as I do not care for Cadillac, there are large segments of the U.S. population that view Cadillac as what you buy if you want an American built luxury car. The brand is so entrenched in its history in the U.S. that “cadillac” is now used as an adjective for anything viewed as top-notch or luxury (e.g., a cadillac health insurance plan).

    2. Eggs,

      That holds true for stuff like toothpaste. Most people are familiar with the two or three top brands, so a sample of 3500 people is valid.

      That doesn’t work when your effective sample size is one hundredth of this. You’ll get some data of of such a survey (think GIGO), but it won’t tell you much of anything. It’s just not the correct methodology in this case. There’s a reason why JD Power and Consumer Report ignore brands that don’t meet a minimum sample size (and they sample more than 3500 car owners). Think about this: what if they happened to come across one of a few dozen Campagna T-Rex owners in the US? What if this person gave the brand full points in every category? That would make Campagna the most beloved brand in the US, with a perfect score, never to be exceeded.

      1. Bernard:

        I hate to burst your bubble, but this survey was about brands of toothpaste, among other things.

        I also stand by the facts; statistics have a way of being counter intuitive when it comes to sample size. In fact, your example of ‘good for toothpaste’ is less right than for cars — there are many more brands of toothpaste than car marques.

        Your example worst case scenario has to do with methodology, not sample size. To your point, if the methodology is not sound, then no matter the sample size the data is flawed. Modern surveys use very sophisticated checks to ensure that the sample is random and representative. In most cases, the surveys ask things that you deem somewhat irrelevant — month you were born in, number of people in your household, the highest level of education you’ve attained, etc. The answers to these innocuous questions ensure that the sample is indeed representative of the whole. If there is little correlation with the general population, then the survey data must be collected a second time with a better method for random sampling.

  4. Swade,
    you gave the VW brand the name that they desire, “das Boring”. People buying VW buy it because its functional and it works, but not because of the brand awareness.

    VW is not “das Auto” it is just “das transport Appliance”

  5. Looking at the full list, and having in mind the survey is of the US, makes a lot of sense. You can bet the results would be dramatically different in Europe