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Consumer Report’s Annual Car Reliability Rankings


Other than homes (and education), probably the most expensive purchase the average household makes is for a car. Since it is so large a part of our lives, automotive reliability is a key issue for Americans. Cars that are not reliable cost consumers’ time and money, and most notably, affects overall satisfaction and willingness to buy the brand again.

Research company Consumer Reports publishes an annual reliability survey based on data gathered from its subscribers. The report is based on those who have owned or leased more than a half a million vehicles, from years 2000 to 2016, covering more than 300 models of automobiles. This year’s survey includes the ranking of 29 brands, with eight brands listed as “more reliable,” 10 brands ranked as “reliable,” and 11 brands ranked as “less reliable.”

In the top eight more reliable brands were Lexus, Toyota, Buick, Audi, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai, and Infiniti. The next 10 reliable brands included BMW, Honda, Subaru, Acura, Nissan, Mini, Chevrolet, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford. Among the less reliable brands were Volvo, Lincoln, Cadillac, Volkswagen, Jeep, GMC, Tesla, Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat, and Ram

Did your vehicle make the reliable list?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show Consumer Reports’ report on car reliability:
  2. Show the video of car rankings:
  3. An FAQ on the research methodology can be found at:
  4. Discuss how companies can use the report in their marketing.
  5. What should companies that didn’t make the top list do to promote their vehicles?
  6. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  7. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for a category of automobiles.

Source:  Consumer Reports

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YouTube Trends: Same for Females and Males in May 2015


This month’s viral trends is a little unusual. In most months, there are distinct differences between the viewing habits between males and females. But, this month both genders (age 18-24) watched the same videos. Yes – this is right – the same music video of Wiz Khalifa for the movie “Furious 7” scored 96% of all female and male views. So, instead of asking what factors account for differences, we now have to ask what factors account for the same viewing habits.

YouTube posts a daily trends map based on demographics as reported by its account holders. Rankings are based on the number of views and can be separated by age, gender, and location. Through the aggregated data, YouTube Trends show us the most popular video in real time and gives ideas about trends that are developing within the YouTube viewing community. The map is a visual representation of the most viewed videos over the past 24 hours across the U.S.

P.S. – Happy 10th Birthday to YouTube! If you would like to see the first video ever posted, go to It’s come a long way in 10 years.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What are the YouTube videos they watch the most?
  2. What videos do they think are more popular for men vs. women? By various age groups?
  3. Bring up the YouTube trends map:
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a specific target market and geography and view the most popular videos in that area.
  5. Discuss how this information can be used by marketers.



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Too Much Trash from Coffee Pods


Americans love coffee, and love easy-to-use products, too. Combine coffee with easy-to-use packaging and it is estimated that one in three U.S. households currently has a pod-based coffee machine such as Keurig, Tassimo, Nespresso, or other models. That means a lot of coffee pods are bought, and they all need to be discarded. Although companies claim the pods are recyclable, they do not appear to be so. Most pods are manufactured from number 7 plastic, include aluminum in the packaging, and are quite small – meaning the pods are not easily recycled.

With sustainability in products and packaging becoming a more compelling topic in marketing, what should companies do? The K-cup inventor, John Sylvan, originally intended the product for use in offices. He left the company in 1997 and now estimates that the single-cup brewing products product 10 times more solid waste than a cup of coffee made in a more conventional drip machine. Sylvan has gone as far as stating that “I wouldn’t do it now…. The world has changed in 15 years.”

Consumers and advocacy groups are calling for solutions to the problem. Even the pod-manufacturers realize that an environmentally-sound approach is needed, vowing to make the pods recyclable by 2020.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the difference between legal issues and ethical issues.
  2. Poll students: How many have a Keurig or other pod-type of coffee maker? How do they dispose of the waste?
  3. Go to the Web site for “Kill the K-Cup”:
  4. View the mockumentary about pod invasion on the site.
  5. Also, view CBS video about how green the coffee pods are:

  1. Discuss ethical considerations for non-sustainable packaging.

Source:, CBS News, East Bay Express, other news sources

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