The mighty fall fast and hard

By Stephen Rhodes

How the mighty can fall. Hard and fast.

The halting sales and production of eight of Toyota’s most popular vehicles over its  sticky-pedal has had a devastating impact on the once unassailable brand.

Stephen Beatty, Toyota Canada Inc, told the National Post that Toyota’s response to the crisis is just the thing that will endear the brand to consumers. He said companies tend to be judged “not so much by the challenges but rather how you respond to them.”

True. To its credit, and  after a shaky start,  Toyota appears to be confronting the issue head on. And while Toyota is aggressively marketing through its “challenges”  it’s hard to get by the notion that the company that built its reputation on quality can tumble so hard, so fast and in so many ways. Who took their foot off the accelerator?

Toyota expects to lose US$2-billion and 100,000 in worldwide vehicle sales as a result of the sales freeze and the recalls.  Production has been temporarily halted at two US Plants. Managers are cloistered and preparing a new marketing campaign to halt the slide and put bums back in seats.

Meanwhile, the vultures are circling with the likes of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler and Hyundai Motor Co. offering incentives to lure Toyota customers into their products. They eat their young in autoland.

Toyota lost about a 2% market share in Canada in January because of the sales freeze. In the United States, Toyota is expected to lose a full percentage point of market share this year, which should allow Ford Motor Co. to reclaim its spot as the No. 2 auto manufacturer in the country.

Consumers have multiple avenues of complaint these days with online tools like Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn groups and YouTube, which makes crisis control even more difficult. And Toyota has not done a good job of managing the online chatter.

Most analysts think Toyota will recover. But it’s lost much of its lustre.

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2 Comments

Filed under Branding, Communications, social media, Stephen Rhodes

2 responses to “The mighty fall fast and hard

  1. Eoin Kenny

    I think anyone involved in crisis communications should compare/contrast Toyota’s (mis)handling of its long-running quality problems — including the problems it sat on for years — and the way Michael McCain fessed up immediately and publicly to its tainted meat problem. Bet there are a lot of folks eating Maple Leaf products today who would never buy another Toyota!

  2. Pingback: Rogers promises real people « The Marketing PAD

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