It may be some time before Carnival Cruise Lines’ image recovers from its recent nosedive due to its “Triumph” ship’s disastrous voyage, but it's not impossible, says YouGov BrandIndex's Ted Marzilli.
The company has experienced one of the steepest drops in consumer perception damage of a brand since 2010’s twin crises experienced by BP and Toyota, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the only daily brand consumer perception research service.
Carnival needs to reassure customers that they have thoroughly researched the cause of the fire and can confidently say it won't or is very unlikely to reoccur, says Marzilli, who is Global BrandIndex Managing Director of YouGov PLC.
“No one died, so this shouldn't be as big an issue,” Marzilli tells Marketing Daily. What the company needs to do is prove it has “the highest safety standards in the industry, and that cruising with Carnival is the best offering of safety and entertainment in the industry.”
YouGov BrandIndex measured Carnival, BP and Toyota using its Buzz score, determined from asking 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?" Carnival, BP and Toyota are not clients of YouGov BrandIndex.
YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback. YouGov BrandIndex interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample, more than 1.2 million interviews per year. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 1.5 million individuals.
Carnival was tracking with a Buzz score of six at the beginning of February. A little more than three weeks later by Feb. 25, the score had dropped nearly 50 points to -43, on par where Toyota was in early February 2010 and where BP was in mid-May 2010, Marzilli said.
Toyota, which was dealing with a massive product recall, would go on to hit its Buzz score bottom one week later at -63 while BP would reach its nadir of -76
toward the end of June, nearly two months after the sinking of its Deep Water Horizon oil rig.
It took until October 2010 for Toyota to stage a recovery, but it has yet to reach the same Buzz score as where it was before its crisis. BP’s comeback has been much slower -- the oil company reached a Buzz score of two last September and currently tracks at negative eight with the advent of their trial, Marzilli said.
To put the Triumph incident’s impact in brand perspective, it’s worth looking at two previous major Carnival crises over the past 18 months.
When Carnival-owned Costa Concordia’s shipwreck took place off the coast of Italy in January 2012, its Buzz score declined from 6 to -23 over the course of seven weeks, equaling
a loss of 29 points. It took Carnival four months to bounce back to close to where it was pre-crisis, Marzilli said.
When a fire disabled Carnival’s Splendor ship for four days off the coast of Mexico before being towed into San Diego in November 2011, the brand’s Buzz score tumbled from 8 down to -26, marking a bigger drop of 34 points. Recovery took three months.
By comparison, Carnival has fallen 49 points in its current crisis, Marzilli said.