Posts by Patty Orsini - New Jersey

With research center, Toyota continues to address consumer anxieties post-recalls

Toyota is still working its way back from a disastrous 2010, when accidents caused by unintended acceleration and brake problems in several models created concern that its cars were unsafe. After criticism that it was too slow to take responsibility, Toyota recalled 11 million autos worldwide, replaced executives at five of its North American factories, and created messaging around safety, as we discussed last year.

toyota1A new year, a new effort: With its Collaborative Safety Research Center, in Ann Arbor, Mich., Toyota is going beyond safer autos to target driver safety. Company president Akio Toyoda said Toyota will work with universities and other partners on research that aims to “reduce driver distraction and increase the safety of vehicles, drivers, passengers and pedestrians.” Toyota continues to deal with the fallout from last year’s problems—about 400 lawsuits are still pending—and cynics might argue that establishing this research center deflects from the brake issues. But Toyota is not running from the problem, either: Working to create safer autos and better driving behaviors speaks to consumers’ most pressing concerns about auto safety and demonstrates that the company is making an effort to improve safety for all drivers.

Photo Credit: Neubie

Toyota’s mantra is all safety, all the time

How much does Toyota care about safety? Enough to use the word seven times in this new 30-second ad, which touts the fact that the automaker is investing “$1 million every hour” in research to enhance vehicle safety. Hammering the message home seems like the way to go, given Toyota’s challenge in regaining consumer confidence after recalling 8 million vehicles worldwide. Toyota is doing this through both news headlines (e.g., the recent announcement that it is replacing executives at five of its North American factories) and its messaging, which now is all safety, all the time.

The commercial points viewers to, as does, whose landing page declares “Everyone deserves to be safe” and directs people to the microsite to learn more. Here, drivers can read about Toyota’s latest brake and traction safety systems in ways they can understand and see the technology explained in videos featuring young and older drivers, families, babies and Toyota engineers.

Given the widespread complaints that it was slow in responding to safety issues, Toyota needs to continually assure buyers that the company not only understands their concerns but shares them as well. Its continued emphasis on safety, coupled with details for concerned consumers, is a good start.

Nokia refines naming system to help consumers overwhelmed by choice

As we discussed recently, too many choices can paralyze consumers, creating anxiety and deterring people from making any purchase at all. So Nokia’s new naming convention for its phones is a step in the right direction for a company with a multitude of products.

The phones are grouped into four series by function: N (most advanced), X (social networking), E (business) and C (basic functions). Within each series, phones are assigned numbers from 1 to 9 that signify the range of features available and, hence, cost. So buyers know from the start whether they’re looking at a highly sophisticated device (rated 9) or a stripped-down one (rated 1).

Nokia’s solution—paring down information to its essentials—allows consumers to more easily weigh price range, features and functionality and more quickly determine what they want. This takes some of the anxiety about making the right choice out of the equation, especially at a time when diligent consumers must do a great deal of work to wade through the fine print.


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