Toyota sales up and down

Toyota in snow

Toyota announced their much anticipated sales figures for the month of February earlier this week. It was expected that their sales would decline as this was the first full month since the hoopla regarding the spontaneous acceleration in many Toyota vehicles had become the talk of every news show, newspaper, late night talk show and many peoples’ conversations. In the US, Toyota performed as expected somewhat as sales dipped 9%. I say somewhat because experts expected even worse results. Regardless, they were the only auto maker to post a sales decline in the US this past month.

In Canada however, the story was very different for Toyota. The Japanese auto manufacturer that has had nothing but awful publicity and now has a tarnished name in terms of quality actually saw their February sales increase in Canada by about 25%. This is very surprising and it shows some key differences between American and Canadian consumers.

When the news about Toyota’s massive recalls came out, Americans quickly took notice and found alternatives such as Ford and other manufacturers. As a consumer, that is the right thing to do, especially since there was and still is concern that perhaps the problems have not been completely fixed yet. Also, Toyota did not immediately offer incentives for customers to buy their cars after the bad news broke.

Canadians however, are notorious for being late to adopt consumer trends and are very wary to change their purchasing behaviors. Therefore, even though they had every reason to leave Toyota and look at other companies, they stuck with what they know, regardless of how bad it might be. This behavioral trait is usually not a positive one to have as it can put one in a situation where opportunities are missed by not adopting something early on and also brings on a higher chance of making bad decisions. Americans are at a low risk for bad decisions because as soon as they see that something is bad, they do not hesitate to go a different route and correct their decision making. Canadians should learn from their American cousins in this respect.

This translates even beyond consumer behaviors though. It really gets at the risk tolerance that a person has. In business, a healthy tolerance for risk is what will lead to success. Being overly cautious will most likely leave you stuck in the middle with your business success. Americans embrace risk more than Canadians and this clearly translates in to them being more entrepreneurial and having more big successes in business than Canadians. On the flip side, Canadians’ conservatism allowed them to avoid the pitfalls of this past financial crisis as Canadian banks did not participate very much in the sub-prime lending practices that had risk written all over them and were out-of-the-norm practices that financial institutions have.

I guess at the end of the day there are advantages and disadvantages to everything but specifically in this case, Canadians are at a disadvantage because they now own more Toyotas than they probably should.