Word-of-Mouth, Toyota and Me

I did a bit of word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing yesterday asking my tweet stream for opinions in re my Toyota dilemma — buy my Toyota Highlander off lease, turn it in, buy another Toyota, or purchase a new brand altogether?

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal pushed me one step closer to the latter. I’m a fiercely brand loyal consumer; yet, all the news of voluntary recalls across the spectrum of Toyota vehicles has me increasingly nervous. In Toyota’s defense, my 2007 vehicle escaped floor mat and brake pedal recall, although the engine did rev while in park in the driveway.

A Twitter pal suggested I look at the Ford Freestyle and Volvo 90. So, I did and was impressed with both from the looks of Web marketing collateral. A family member has suggested the Chevy Traverse.

Then, I read McKinsey Quarterly: The Online Journal April 2010 article, “A New Way to Measure Word-of-Mouth Marketing,” and it got me thinking. Several statements are worth noting:

  • “WOM is the primary factor behind 20 to 25 percent of all purchasing decisions. Its influence is greatest when consumers are buying a product for the first time or when products are relatively expensive.”
  • “Consumers are overloaded and skeptical about traditional company-driven marketing and advertising and increasingly prefer to make purchasing decisions largely independent of what companies tell them.”

For anyone engaged in WOM marketing, Toyota owners (me included) are a classic audience for this channel of communication. I’ve already engaged with reliable sources within social media, and as a blogger, I’m asking for other opinions from readers which I’ll weigh and consider heavily. My trust in Toyota is waning, sadly, which means I’m seeking new information during a lengthy research phase that will influence my purchase.

Was Toyota transparent? No. Did it used to be trustworthy? Yes. Is it now? No. Does it deserve another chance? Not sure, and that’s where WOM comes in to play.

How has WOM affected your purchasing decisions of late? Is this truly a form of viable marketing, or is it just another label for something we consumers have been doing for years? Please, join the conversation!