In the luxury car market, Infiniti has long lingered near the bottom of the pack.
Over the past year, however, it has made a significant push to reinvent itself, starting with the all-new Q50 sports sedan.
According to a YouGov BrandIndex survey, the plan is working, for the most part.
A rising number of people have heard good things about Infiniti cars lately, but few of them are seriously considering buying one.
To get the first measurement, Buzz score, YouGov asked respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"
Scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A 0 means the amount of positive and negative feedback was the same.
Here, the news is excellent for Infiniti. At the end of August, it pulled ahead of Acura. It even briefly caught up with Lexus before dipping again at the end of the month:
"Infiniti has spent much time, effort and concentration on creating brand awareness surrounding the new Q50 luxury sports sedan," Kyle W. Bazemore, senior manager for Infiniti USA Communications, told Business Insider. "It's been gratifying to see consumers recognize Infiniti as a competitive luxury brand."
But there's still a gap between recognition of Infiniti and real interest in buying one.
To measure "purchase consideration," YouGov asks, "When you are in the market next to purchase items in this particular category, from which of the following brands would you consider purchasing?"
Infiniti (in light grey below) has steadily risen over the past year, but has barely cracked 10%. It's still behind Acura (green) and the rest of the luxury sector (red). Lexus (dark grey) is far ahead.
Sales figures for 2013 echo YouGov's findings. So far this year (through September 30), Infiniti has reported 80,919 sales. That's well behind Acura (120,830) and Lexus (190,760), to say nothing of the luxury behemoths Mercedes-Benz (229,996) and BMW (212,565). Infiniti's sales figures are also 6.6% below where they stood at this time in 2012.
But hope for the Q50 remains. The sedan has gotten mostly positive, if not rave reviews, from Car and Driver and the Los Angeles Times. The Detroit News called it "a good start" on the road to reinvention (we have not had the chance to test it ourselves.)
Executives at Cadillac and Lincoln, rusty luxury brands also mid-reinvention, often press the point that building a strong lineup and attracting customers takes years, not one good car and one advertising campaign. The same is true for Infiniti.
Plus, the Q50 is still a new car; deliveries to customers started in August. Brand President Johan de Nysschen says it is just "the opening salvo in a strong, impending product offensive you can be assured is coming."
So the sales news isn't great, but Infiniti should be pleased that the Q50 has been mostly well-received and that a rising number of Americans have not only heard about the brand recently, they've heard good things.
It's a start.
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