United Airlines refusal to let a group of teen girls board unless they changed out of their spandex leggings triggered a wide social media backlash, bringing the carrier to its lowest consumer perception levels in a year.
Even though the girls traveled on a family pass that comes with dress code conditions, the ensuing social media outrage appears to have pushed down perception significantly.
Yet, despite the incident’s negative reception, it doesn’t seem likely to impact the bottom line. United’s purchase consideration score – YouGov BrandIndex’s key metric of potential sales revenue – actually went up at the same time perception was going down.
In other words, the incident falls into what YouGov BrandIndex often spots – highly viral social media episodes that have very short-term or no discernible effect on the underlying business.
YouGov BrandIndex measured consumer perception in this research with its Buzz score, which asks 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?"
A score can range from -100 to 100 with a zero score equaling a neutral position.
Buzz and Purchase Consideration: United