Honda and Mercedes-Benz Top Harris Interactive Brand Rankings

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It was a tough 2011 for Honda, with two natural disasters crippling the company’s sales and a poorly received refresh to the famed Civic. But American survey respondents have apparently read past that story: a survey by Harris Interactive named Honda the most-loved automotive brand in the nation, edging out top luxury brand Mercedes-Benz.

Harris Interactive’s annual EquiTrend study looks at brand equity, a proprietary measure of a brand’s health and standing with consumers and the general public. In 2011, it named Ford the full-line manufacturer with the most brand equity and put Chevrolet in second place; Honda came in third. In the luxury carmaker category, Mercedes-Benz topped Lexus and BMW.

This year, the luxury landscape looks much the same: Mercedes-Benz sits atop the group of luxury car brands with a 61.02 equity score. BMW managed to edge out Lexus this year, 58.71 to 58.4. Other top brands include Cadillac (58.39), Acura (56.32), and Audi (55.36).

But fortunes have turned in the full-line category: Honda managed a two-place jump in a year, topping the full-line category with a 62.55 score. Toyota took second place with a 62.51 score, and last year’s number one, Ford, took third place with a 62.1. Chevrolet, last year’s second place, fell to number four with a score of 61.95.

What does this mean? A high brand equity number signals good brand health and a good standing with potential buyers, so these numbers suggest that Japanese brands are back in a big way. It also shows that many brands have a lot of work to do: Chevrolet’s sibling brand Cadillac made the top eight spots in luxury cars, but Buick ranked below average; likewise, Lincoln faltered while Ford continued its reign as the best American brand. Conversely, Hyundai scored an above-average ranking (showing lots of improvement over last year, when it rated below average) while Kia didn’t make the cut.

In the meantime, it looks like there’s some competition on the horizon: if Harris Interactive’s metrics are an accurate predictor of sales success, Honda’s new Accord sedan could prove an even more serious competitor for the Toyota Camry than it already is. Honda's obviously thinking the same thing: American Honda VP of National Marketing Operations said "the combination of strong brand equity and a fresh line-up of new models that resonate with customers will drive strong growth for us this year."

Source: Harris Interactive

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