When your Customers Become an Issue

All my life I aspired to own a particular car brand. Where I grew up, there weren’t many around (it wasn’t the most affluent area) and I’d always loved the way they looked. So, I set my sights on owning one.

Now that I’m in a position where I’m considering which car to get, I no longer want that brand. Why? Not because the quality of the cars has changed – I still like them.

I don’t want that brand because of the other people who drive them. Whenever I get tailgated, it seems to be someone in one. Whenever I get cut up, it seems to be by someone in one (ok, a slight exaggeration, but it’s a very noticeable trend). I also frequently see drivers of that brand weaving aggressively in and out of traffic.

How does a company respond when its own customers, not its products or services, become an issue?

My thoughts: The solution certainly isn’t a purely branding-based program. Ads aren’t going to convince me – I might see an ad showing someone driving responsibly, but every time I’m out on the road I’ll see evidence to the contrary.

My initial inclination would be through a concerted effort to change the behaviour of customers through ongoing education – research to highlight peoples’ perceptions of irresponsible drivers; ongoing safe driving information for customers; partnerships with insurance companies etc.

What do you think?

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.