Having worked with Toyota Motor Europe’s communication teams for over a decade, we were asked to devise a new media analysis programme to provide insights for a different set of stakeholders: the engineers at the cutting edge of Toyota and Lexus research and development. Specifically, we would provide media evaluation for the Total Vehicle Assessment team, which is responsible for tracking feedback on Toyota and Lexus models, and their rivals, with a view to designing future generations of cars.
The objective was to provide comprehensive, structured analysis of the automotive media market. There was no requirement for detailed written evaluation, just fast, accessible and accurate information for the team to feed into internal reports for technical divisions, and bi-weekly summary updates for senior managers.
We worked closely with Toyota to produce a reading list, making full use of our joint expertise in automotive media to define a concise set of independent and authoritative publications. On average, we analyse around 90 articles each month, providing an extremely cost-effective overview of authoritative media opinion to inform Toyota’s decision-making.
After a rigorous training and testing process, we selected an extremely competent team of analysts to work on the project. They track positive, neutral and negative statements about vehicles in more than 40 areas of vehicle design and performance.
Each week, we upload the latest test drive data to an online portal, which is available to the Total Vehicle Assessment team at all times. This updates a searchable database of analysis information – including car specifications, the areas discussed and the tone in which they were discussed – from Toyota, Lexus and rival models’ reviews.
Toyota integrates our findings with their internal research information to produce multiple reports with different levels of detail. Core data is exported to produce graphs and tables, while our ‘verbatim’ statements are used to qualify findings.
We provide the Total Vehicle Assessment team with readily accessible, up-to-date information about the media’s response to new products. This enables them to quickly identify products’ strong and weak areas, as well as emerging market trends. They disseminate findings widely within the company – in a bi-weekly top level summary for higher management levels, including those in the product planning, marketing and technical divisions, and detailed analysis reports for technical divisions, including all staff responsible for target setting on new models.
By feeding insights from media opinion to product development teams as early as possible, they can more easily adopt changes and improve products still under development.