Recalling Cars and Restoring Trust: How Well Have BMW Fared?

May 15, 2018 - 3 minute read

BMW is making headlines this week, but not for the right reasons. 

300,000 of their cars need their engines refitted after a potential fault was discovered. A product recall is a lengthy process for both brand, and consumer. It’s a lot of money and hassle coordinating a country-wide operation for BMW, and for the owners of cars affected, it’s the inconvenience of losing your car for a few days.

But how much of a psychological effect does this sort of bad press have on consumers? The discoveries of the BBC Watchdog Live were unfavourable: thousands of cars are at risk of stalling spontaneously whilst being driven; and BMW could have acted more swiftly.

But BMW is a powerhouse of a brand, built up over a century: that holds sway with consumers too. In a month where we’ve been thinking a lot about brand trust, we went to consumers to ask them whether or not they’d heard the news, and what effect it had had.

On the whole, the headlines have done their jobs:

That said, perception of the brand remains rosy. Amongst those who already own a BMW car, they scored a healthy NPS of 46%. And of those who aren’t BMW-owners, a full 50% would consider buying one the next time they need to buy a car.

Again, when we delve deeper into the specific issue of trust, BMW are weathering the storm without much damage. 

To a large extent, this high level of trust carries through to whether or not people want to buy a BMW. 

There is a healthy contingent of people who are totally unaffected by the bad press.

However, the second largest segment is made up of people who are now “significantly less likely” to invest in the brand. It is important, therefore, to have a good recovery plan in place to soothe the fears of these consumers.

There are many ways to do this, and BMW has already taken huge steps towards mitigating the damage done. The recall is extensive; a customer complaints line has been opened; and the brand will contact affected customers directly.

What’s the most effective way back into people’s good books?

Efforts to demonstrate that the brand is taking the issue seriously, and reforming to ensure the error isn’t repeated, are popular. The measures that BMW are already taking are clearly working, since NPS has remained strong.

But which brands are getting it totally right, when it comes to the car market? We asked people which car brand they view as most trustworthy, and BMW could look to these manufacturers to see what they’re getting so right. 

Audi, Ford and Mercedes take the top 3 spots and impressively, despite the news, BMW comes in 4th.

They’ve clearly built up a consumer base whose trust is strong enough to withstand an anomalous incident, and their recovery strategy is effective at regaining the loyalty of those who have been more deeply affected by the news.

If you, too, would like to build a consumer base that can withstand bumps in the road, get in touch. We can help you talk to your consumers to get to know them before disaster strikes, or even during the worst of the storm, to help you design your recovery strategy.

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