PR Announcements

Japanese Disaster Impacting Automotive Demand

Shopper Activity For Japanese Brands Starting Immediately After Quake And Continuing Downward Momentum Since

Nashville, TN —03/29/2011— Dataium, LLC, today released additional data on online automotive shopper behavior of the American consumer that illustrates a downward shift, particularly for Japanese brands. The company utilized its ASI index which aggregates and weighs nearly a dozen different behaviors to determine consumer intensity, motivation, and engagement in the automotive market. The ASI index had made positive gains through February, however after the quake, illustrated a dramatic reversal in consumer behavior. It should be noted that all automotive makes are being impacted; however Japanese manufacturers have felt the brunt of the declines in consumer behavior.

World Events – A Timeline for Auto Market Decline
image of WorldEvents Dataium Chart

Declines in the ASI index began almost immediately after the Libyan crisis erupted and average gas prices broke $3.45 per gallon. Domestic brands as a group saw the greatest declines at 7%, with Dodge and GMC having the most significant declines – each with nearly a 17% decline in online auto shopper intensity. Japanese imports posted gains of around 9%; with Honda posting a 25% increase for the same time period, likely due to the higher fleet MPG for these makes. All imports were up by 1%.

These trends shifted dramatically after the Japanese quake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster occurred. Immediately following these events, Japanese imports posted a 16% decline – reversing the earlier gains, while domestic brands saw a 13% increase in their group’s index. However, it did not take long for the gravity of the disaster in Japan, continued unrest in the Middle East, and rising gas prices to erode the gains first posted by domestic brands.

Adding to the already staggering reversal in consumer behavior, Japanese imports have seen their ASI index decline an additional 13% in the weeks following the quake; this comes after posting a 1% gain in the 10 days prior to the quake that rocked Japan on March 11. Unrest has not been solely on the Japanese brands, the U.S. domestic auto brands have lost 1% following the quake, compared to a 4% decline for the 10 days prior. The ASI index for both imports and luxury brands have declined nearly 7%, and the overall automotive market index is down nearly 5% since the quake, versus 2%, 1%, and 2% declines prior to the quake.

Impact of Quake on Automotive Brands
Image of Impactofquake Dataium Chart

“The data we have collected from online auto shopping behavior across the Internet clearly indicates that the automotive market was beginning to soften in response to world events and continued gas price increases prior to the catastrophic events in Japan”, stated Eric Brown, CEO of Dataium. He added, “The Japanese nameplates were actually out-performing the domestic brands until the quake. After the quake, these trends inverted and the Japanese imports began a significant decline.” He continued, “it should be noted however, that all automotive brands are being impacted by events around the world.”