There was a time when Toyota was an automotive leader in the global car industry by a country mile. No other company was able to compare to the staggering sales records, quality reputation, and loyal consumers Toyota had accumulated through-out its years of operation. However, given the year of recalls they had in 2010, what comes to mind now when you think of Toyota?
Throughout 2010 as the news of the various worldwide Toyota recalls hit the ears of automotive enthusiasts, the once quality-assured brand has become synonymous with continuous defective parts – with some faulty vehicles even proving to be fatal. Take for instance the death of two passengers in the U.S who died on November 5th 2010 due to a Toyota Corolla’s sudden acceleration.
However, this incident is only the tip of the iceberg. Recently, Toyota announced their decision to recall 1.7 million vehicles worldwide, with a whopping 1.2 million recalls targeted at vehicles sold in Japan. Vehicles being recalled date back to 2000 and go right up to 2009 and was due to fuel leakage. Toyota shares tumbled 1.7 per cent following news of the recall.
In Australia, the latest recall to be announced is directed at the 17,582 Toyota Kluger vehicles produced from May 2003 to November 2005. Toyota Australia declared vehicles produced during this time may have brake fluid leaks.
You would be forgiven if you thought these negative setbacks would take a hard hit on Toyota sales – instead the Japanese manufacturer gained a 7.7 per cent comeback in 2010. Seems people don’t mind the added ‘bonus’ of potential fatal faults in their cars.
All in all, Toyota’s total sales figure for 2010 was nearing 8.5 million – an increase from 2009’s 7.8 million.
Their closest competitor was General Motors, who revved up the pressure against Toyota with a final sales figure of 8,389,769 (only 28,000 short of Toyota’s total units sold).
However, it’s not the first time Toyota and GM have been close rivals. In 2007, both car manufacturers reported a record 9.37 million sales figure.
Nevertheless, it seems Toyota consumers are not holding the continuous recalls against the Japanese manufacturer. Instead, Toyota lovers around the world have proven their loyalty by sticking with them through their recent tough times. The outcome of final sales figures shows more devotion to Toyota than other manufacturers who have had no scandalous recalls to report.
But why are consumers staying loyal to Toyota despite their many recalls?
Answer: Brand Strength
Over the years, Toyota has established serious brand strength among consumers. Their continuous marketing of the brands quality and safety is entrenched in consumer minds. This reputation is down to years of clever and relentless marketing of Toyota's safety and reliability levels. For example, in Europe, Toyota uses the slogan ‘The best built cars in the world’.
So despite a bumpy 2010, the brand stood strong and weathered the storm to come out on top. That’s the power of marketing for you.
Do you have any similar examples where a brand is stronger than the scandals that threaten it?