Unfortunately for the U.S. domestics, one of the key reasons for their diminishing sales is because of a perception that just because a car comes from the Detroit 3 then it must be second-rate. Every month, CNW Market Research conducts a test where it shows a group of would-be car buyers a popular foreign car such as the segment leading Toyota Camry but removes all identification of the model and tells them it’s American.
The results are clear cut, CNW vice president Art Spinella explained to The Wall Street Journal. "If they think it's an American car, the perception of the vehicle falls dramatically," he said.
The focus now for the Detroit 3 is to turn customers away from foreign makes. One of the new tactics employed by Ford’s advertising agency JWT was to have its staff imitate market researchers to get Toyota customers to trial a Ford model for a week. The pseudo researchers would then record any positive comments and use it in Ford’s new advertising campaign.
GM, meanwhile, put a Camry and an Accord in each of its Saturn dealerships in the hope that customers would think its own Aura sedan was the best option. This largely failed and GM has since scrapped plans to do the same for its upcoming Malibu.