For a long time there has been an alignment of Toyota vision with both Japanese culture and national and international stakeholders. This alignment can be seen in our opinion according two different perspectives: from the innovation activity and from the social responsibility (attention for environment). Referring to the innovation of the product process, Toyota has always been one of the leader in creating high-level cars both from mechanical and electronic aspect as it is typical of Japanese economy.
The Japanese business is traditionally known at a global level for its profitable performance concerning the management of electronic and mechanical activities. From this point of view there was a perfect alignment between internal and the external vision. In relation to social responsibilty, the Japanese culture shows a great concern on energy conservation and environment, that is the reason why Toyota has traditionally supported these aspects in the car production process.
In 1998, Toyota received an important award for the production of Prius ( the world’s first passenger vehicle in mass production powered by a third power train system). The introduction of Prius in the market, allowed the company to make a clear statement on its commitment of environmental protection. During the following years, the company gained many awards and leader position in environmental technology field. Recently, in relation to these two perspectives of analysis, a misalignment can be verified for the following three reasons:
1) Toyota has focused too much on cost control and economies of scale, leaving out esthetic and design aspects, creating too much standardized cars ( a same kind of product all over the world). In this case we found the first gap because of the different expectations of the worldwide stakeholders in comparison with Japanese and Toyota culture , particularly talking about European customers who care about design much more than the others. 2) The strong attention on cost control and economies of scale policy , has created a lot of technical troubles that forced the company to recall a huge amount of cars from the market.
As consequence the company lost a lot in term of reliability. Here we faced a gap between vision and image (In the vision they really support the safety part but the collective image is far from that). Considering the worldwide market and international stakeholders, we think that there has been a misalignment on American customers who are interested in technical aspects more than esthetics.
The final point of the misalignment has been caused by the exaggerated focus on energetic conservation, so the company produced no high performing cars in order to satisfy international customer’s requirement. For instance, in 2009, Toyota had so poor performance in F1 that the company decided to withdraw from F1 with immediately effect. In order to address this GAP, we believe that Toyota should: - first of all, adapt his products to international market, giving special consideration to esthetics and design. - be more focused on customer’s requests, that consist in high performing and environmentally friendly cars at the same time. Moreover, since the break problem that obliged Toyota to recall a big amount of cars from the market.
2) We would change the communication strategy into the following two directions: a) A traditional way, based on incentive messages focused on energy conservation connected to the concept of safety and brightness cars, in order to retrieve the loss of company credibility.
A lot of marketing activities can be organized such as: o planning amateur competitions that involve young people with their own cars at an international level; o planning events or competition characterized by the participation of sport champions (like F1 drivers) o arrange Visitor Centers, based in the regional headquarter country, in order to give customers the chance to drive cars and to understand the topic of energy conservation o promote “green days” o partnership with environmental friendly organization (like WWF)
b) An innovative way, using guerrilla or tribal marketing techniques. In several ways such as: o Use social networks for empowering the costumers to decide on specific aspects as internal design, colors, extra services, […] of their cars offer.
Doing this thing, they will be available to focus on the costumer and not only on the product as they always did. o During holydays such as Easter or Christmas, make people drive specific cars by organizing spectacular race trucks, enriched by music and light effects. The event should be introduced by well-known personalities, as signers, actors, sportsmen. o Promote musical or sport-events for young people, such as concerts, championships and matches.
o Create partnerships with tour-operators to promote specific cars during adventures trips, like safari. o Transform their headquarter in a tourist attraction, thanks to the partnership with local and international tour operator that promote day trip in the company. o using cars during appealing movies for young people (like Mini in ‘’The Italian Job’’) o Use amusement park as a stage for car shows, parades and games.
3) Most of the crisis response strategies applied in the report by Toyota, belong to reducing offensiveness category. Even if the company seems to be aware of its responsibility, it never used mortification quotations. In our opinion, the document we`ve analyzed, is characterized by the following strategies: MINIMIZATION:
4) We can affirm Toyota acted in a good way in minimizing in order to not damage the company image more. Moreover they could have improved corrective actions and provide their customers with facilities, like substitutive-cars during the fixing period of the damaged ones. Even if they did well in minimizing the event, they could have shown more mortification, not only for the damage itself, but also for the waste of time and the other troubles related to it. They could also have adopted a denial strategy (shifting the blame) by giving responsibility to the specific divisions in charge of the production of defected components; consequently they could have renewed the responsible divisions or made an outsourcing agreement for that.
Regarding the good intentions, they could have provided more detailed information about their future control and safety standards. Another good strategy, could have been ‘’attack the accusers’’, trying to focus on the main competitors that were taking advantage from their crisis. Finally, according to what we read in the case study, we`d have expected a more customer oriented behavior.
ITALY According to Italy Toyota starter two different recall campaigns: the first one recalls 260.000 cars with accelerator pedal problems and the second one 2500 Ibrid car with brake problem. In order to fix the first problem the company sent letters to the 26000 clients involved in this problem; the letters contained all the information regarding how to get the appointment with the car retailer in order to fix the problem (fixing time about 30 minutes). The second recall concerned the Prius models which had some ABS problems on 2500cars; they used the same technique and the time to fix took about 40 minutes.
Toyota provided an assistance number(gratis): 800 869 682 available 24h/7d, useful to know if the car is involved in the problem and to know technical details. The A.D. of Toyota Motor Italy, Massimo Gargano, stated “ Toyota as a world leader for sales volume and quality reputation has to accept to be criticize facing this problem. We have to underline that the company decide to recall all the car just to satisfy our costumers expectations and make them sure about the safety of the product”, he also underline that “regarding the accelerator pedal problem we chose to recall 1.800.000 cars even if only 26 really faced this problem” .