Volkswagen suffers brand damage in Saudi Arabia

The fuel emission scandal that’s engulfed Volkswagen has taken a big toll on its brand value, a new report finds.

According to YouGov’s daily brand tracker BrandIndex, which assesses consumers’ impressions about brands, Volkswagen has seen a 50 percent dip in its brand impression following revelations about the scandal on September 18.

Positive consumer feelings for the brand dipped from 18.1 to 9.4 between September 22 and 29, 2014, a near-halving of the score, which is also the lowest in six months.

“Over the same period, Volkswagen’s word-of-mouth (WOM) exposure score increased by almost 100 percent, illustrating the viral impact the crisis is having in the Kingdom,” said YouGov in a release. WOM is assessed by asking respondents, “In the past two weeks, which brands have you talked about with friends or family?”

The scandal has also had a fallout on consumer impressions of Audi, part of the larger VW group, YouGov’s data shows. Audi’s score fell from 35.4 to 29.4 between September 21 and 30, 2015.

“Saudi Arabia is a key market for Volkswagen and, even though the current scandal doesn’t yet impact their cars sold in the region, the ripple effect of the negative publicity is clearly reflected in the significant decline of its brand Impression. That, together with an overall increase in word-of-mouth exposure and the subsequent dent in Audi’s brand impression score over the same period, demonstrates how damaging the revelation could be, not only for Volkswagen, but its brand portfolio in Saudi Arabia,” said Kailash Nagdev, YouGov’s UAE Managing Director, about the findings.