Why Toyota did not suffer from bad word-of-mouth
This morning I read the sales figures of Toyota. Sales figures are constantly increasing. Even though they suffered from a huge crisis, sales keep going up. Strange, because all research shows that bad word-of-mouth results in negative growth. Why not for Toyota?
During the last 10 years, it was clear that Toyota had the most satisfied clients in the entire industry. That was the foundation of their growth in the last decade. And during the crisis most Toyota drivers didn’t feel any troubles at all. Even if your car had to go back into the shop, customer service was still nice. So, in fact, there were only a limited number of Toyota drivers who really experienced something negative.
But what happened? People who were not driving a Toyota, people who are not a fan of Toyota started to boost negative conversations about the brand. Conversation topics were the lack of credibility, the call back â€¦
Because of this negative conversation tsunami, Toyota fans became low profile. They didn’t have any arguments to strike back towards the negativists. So, they kept silent. It’s like in a soccer stadium when the home team is losing 0-3. Do you know what the fans do at that time? They are very silent or leave early. If you don’t have any arguments to defend your favorite brand, you disappear from the playing field.
Toyota fans were the ones not participating in the conversation. But deep down inside, they were still a Toyota fan. Now that the crisis is behind us, it is clear that the brand fans are leaving their silent mode. The brand leverage wasn’t broken after 10 years of great experiences. Because of this strong brand identification and lack of negative conversations from the real product users, there was no crucial damage to the brand.
Brands can learn from this:
- You always have fans: even if your company is facing the worst crisis in history, there will always be brand fans. In most cases, you don’t hear them because they stay silent.
- In times of crisis: bring your brand fans together. Let them feel that they are not the only fan left. By re-grouping the fans, their voice will become more powerful
- Or even better: don’t wait for your crisis to happen. Just act proactive and create brand communities where you prepare yourself for the future. Get your own brand army ready.
- Give fans stuff to say. If the media and other non-fans are saying things that aren’t completely true, tell the real story directly to your fans. They will believe you and it gives them arguments to fight back