The brand insulation effect is also seen in Toyota owners' stronger belief that other automakers are equally lax when it comes to consumer safety. In contrast, they don't believe that domestic automakers such as GM, Ford and Chrysler are catching up to Toyota and Honda in either safety or reliability.
To maintain the brand insulation, the authors said, Toyota must efficiently and effectively execute the recalls to show customers that their satisfaction is paramount.
"If Toyota does return to its traditional focus of product quality and safety, it will claw its way out of this recall," Dholakia said. "It might lose some sales in the short run, but Toyota owners say they are still likely to buy a Toyota in the future."
When Toyota owners were asked to rate on the same 0-to-10 scale whether they would consider Toyota if they were to buy a new vehicle today, their ratings averaged an 8, whereas other automobile owners' ratings averaged a 4.
But Toyota and other brand owners can agree on some things: Both groups reported an equal level of agreement with the statements "We need more government regulation for safety," with an average rating each of 6.4, and "Government was too slow to act in this recall," with an average rating of 6.2 among Toyota owners and 6.6 for other brand owners.
"All the findings from our survey support one compelling and consistent conclusion: Toyota's customer base is insulated because of its consistent and high customer satisfaction levels in the past," Dholakia said. "The long-term prognosis is promising. Toyota can become a textbook example of how consistent customer-satisfaction can insulate the brand, even if it falters."
|Contact: David Ruth|