Prophet Reputation Study Shows Big Auto Comeback

May 03, 2011, 13:14 ET from Prophet

SAN FRANCISCO, May 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With one notable exception, the automotive industry has come back strongly from the shaken consumer confidence and damaged reputation that resulted from the 2009 economic crisis and bailout environment, a study by strategic brand and marketing consultancy Prophet ( shows.

The firm's "Reputation Winners, Losers" study ( showed an overall jump in reputation scores from 2009 for the majority of the sector. While foreign automakers Honda and BMW remained in the top 50, the U.S. contingent saw substantial improvement despite remaining in the bottom of the rankings.

GM moved to the 85th spot from 123; Ford, to 60 from 72. Even Daimler saw improvement, moving to 115 from 124. "Ongoing moves by automakers to improve their products and finances seem to be paying off with renewed consumer confidence," said Prophet Partner Jeff Smith, who headed the study.

Not surprisingly, Toyota's ongoing woes with multiple product recalls caused it to fall from its leading reputation spot at 18 to a failing one at 139 – near the bottom of the list.

Smith said consumers heavily weighted attributes centered on products, personal relevance, leadership and ethical behavior, including how well companies delivered on innovation with products, services and technologies.

With new products like the electric Chevy Volt, GM got high scores on innovation-related reputation drivers. It also helped, Smith said, that GM divested several brands to focus on improved quality and reliability of others. Consumers gave GM points for its performance on reliable products and services.

Ford, which just reported market share gains and the highest profits in 13 years, saw high marks on product-related reputation drivers, said Smith. He attributed much of that to the new Ford Fiesta and its unique product features. Ford ranked first among all automobile companies for its innovation. Ford's refusal of the federal bailout likely contributed to its strong scores on qualities of leadership, transparency and ethics.  

Prophet polled 4,900 U.S. consumers about 145 Fortune 500 companies in 18 sectors, asking them to gauge overall reputation and how well they believe companies perform on various attributes that impact reputation.

Prophet ( is a strategic brand and marketing consultancy that helps its clients win by delivering inspired and actionable ideas. For further information about the study, contact Jeff Smith at

SOURCE Prophet