If Toyota were tried in the court of media and automobile expert opinion, the company would likely be executed sometime soon. However, if the company’s customers made up the jury, it’s possible Toyota could do a year in jail at worst, and at best 90 days probation.
That’s what the findings of a recent study out of Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business show. Despite hundreds of negative stories generated by the press and predictions of the company’s demise by experts, customers remain loyal. In a survey of 455 U.S. car owners (of which 58—12.8%—were Toyota owners), the overall level of satisfaction of those owners with their vehicles was high. In fact, they were higher than owners of other car brands (see graphic below).
Vikas Mittal, a professor of marketing at Jones Graduate School, who led the study, says the results illustrate the concept of “selection bias” by the media, in which it negatively reports isolated incidents while ignoring the sentiments of key stakeholders (like customers).
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