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Mercedes and Kodak Are Top Quality, Volvo Drivers Most Loyal, Survey Says

January 9, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ American consumers believe Mercedes and Kodak stand for top quality, although Volvo drivers are more loyal to their cars, a study of brand perceptions says.

Coke and Pepsi are dead even in terms of perceived quality, but the Pepsi generation seems more satisfied with its cola. And while Toyota owners are among the most loyal of any brand-name devotees, the average American feels that Buick offers more quality.

Total Research Corp., a Princeton, N.J.-based market research firm, surveyed consumers age 15 and older in 1,000 households for their attitudes on 91 brands in categories ranging from cars to candy bars.

The study of brand recognition and quality perception, also known as brand equity, found that Campbell soup was the most recognized brand, with 98 percent of those surveyed having some feeling about Campbell.

Hallmark greeting cards and McDonald’s restaurants followed closely with 97 percent recognition.

Mercedes and Kodak topped the list of perceived quality with an average rating of 84 from consumers with a feeling about the brands. The ratings are on a scale ranging from zero for poor or unacceptable quality to 100 equals extraordinary quality.

Other brands rating at or above 80 in perceived quality included Fisher- Price toys, Hallmark, Levi’s jeans and IBM personal computers.

But in the rank of perceived quality among users of a given brand, Volvo came out on top with a rating of 98, topping Mercedes at 94.

The survey also indicated strongly polarized views about Toyota. The Japanese carmaker came in third in quality ranking among brand users with a rating of 93. But among consumers who recognize the brands, Buick had a higher perceived quality rating than Toyota, 69 to 66.

Among other conclusions, Total Research said consumer response toward Advil showed strong growth potential, with a quality perception among users of the pain reliever higher than quality perceptions among consumers who recognize the brand.

Other brands with a similar growth profile included Volvo, ESPN sports cable network, Estee Lauder and Revlon cosmetics, American Express, Fuji film and Magnavox.

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes showed the classic signs of a declining brand - highly recognized but average in perceived quality and lowly rated in user satisfaction. Others showing a declining profile included Nestle’s Crunch, Sears stores, Holiday Inns, Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurance, Schick razors and Lipton soup.

Coke and Pepsi both made the top 10 of most recognized brands, but Pepsi drinkers gave their cola a quality rating of 88 while Coca-Cola drinkers rated their brand slightly lower at 85.

The survey also found that consumers still love International Business Machines, even if stock market investors don’t. IBM personal computers ranked second behind Kodak in terms of consistency of consumers’ quality ranking.

At the other end of the scale, MTV, the music cable channel, had the least consistent quality ranking, as well as the lowest quality rating among consumers.

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