There was not much of a silver lining in General Motors' first post-bankruptcy earnings report, whose headline was a $1.2 billion loss. But there might be a glimmer of light from nuggets picked from data at Edmunds.com. Analysts at the Santa Monica, Calif.-based auto shopping and research site say that while per-vehicle profit from sales is flat, consumer interest in the automaker's vehicles is up. And consumers do not seem to associate GM's brands with GM (and its problems).
In the firm's measure of consideration, based on the percentage of Edmunds.com site visitors who viewed pages of content specifically about a vehicle or brand during a given month, all four GM brands have seen improvements since January this year. Buick consideration has gone from 1.35% to 2.71%; Cadillac's from 2.43% to 3.18%; Chevrolet's from 10.79% to 11.56%; and GMC consideration went from 2.78% to 3.83%, per Edmunds.
Jeremy Anwyl, president of Edmunds.com, tells Marketing Daily that the improvement in consideration for Chevrolet is especially important because it is 60% of the company's business. "So a 1% improvement for Chevrolet is worth a lot more than a similar improvement for Buick. The big thing is the size of the divisions."
Anwyl says that while bankruptcy and the unpopularity of the government's bailout loans were drags on GM's performance earlier this year, from which Ford has benefited, people do not connect GM's individual divisions with GM. "The original thought was nobody would buy cars from someone in bankruptcy," he says. "But what we saw with Chrysler and GM was that people don't really make a connection between, say Jeep and Chrysler, or Chevrolet and GM."
General Motors also has some other consideration drivers going for it: five new, well-received, and high-volume models in the marketplace, including Chevy Equinox/GMC Terrain; Buick Lacrosse, and the new Cadillac SRX. "And they are doing pretty well. They are way ahead of average," says Anwyl, who adds that way before bankruptcy, GM broke its habit of producing mediocre vehicles. "They are bringing out good vehicles that have been doing well in the market; the Pontiac Aztek was probably the last really bad car."
And consideration is up because of GM's incentive spending, particularly for 2009 model vehicles like the Silverado pickup. "It's a complex picture," says Anwyl. "New vehicles are selling well and have positive pricing power, and on those not selling well and older vehicles, there are big discounts."