If you were sitting at home on Sunday afternoon watching the Home Shopping Network, you didn’t fall asleep and dream that Evelyn and Dolores of HSN were talking to you about Toyota Priuses. They actually were talking to you about Toyota’s hybrid cars.
Yep, that’s ol’ Evelyn and Dolores, looking slightly like salmon washed up on Alaska’s riverbeds, unsure just where to put their hands on the merchandise, while throttled into a sales pitch that doesn’t involve jewelry or cooking utensils or kitschy home décor.
The Home Shopping Network has been around for 34 years, and over the weekend for the first time in its illustrious stay-at-home up-real-late women-directed history (90% of the station’s viewership are women), the television channel stumped for automobiles, specifically for Toyota’s hybrid models.
Toyota, proprietors of The Toyota Way and kaizen (a philosophy of continuous improvement and consistent innovation), are applying these long-held corporate beliefs to educate a demographic that has (historically, according to studies and research) issues with buying a new car through a dealership. The thinking goes that the three one-hour time slots Toyota purchased would be an innocent way to explain the complicated technology of hybrid vehicles and their benefits without the pressure of a face-to-face encounter with a salesperson who’s more interested in getting the car off the lot instead of automobile edification.
And it was pure edification; state dealer franchise laws prevent direct selling through the Home Shopping Network. Toyota gave callers free coffee mugs and the possibility to qualify for $1,000 certificates toward free gas or HSN shopping credits if callers went out and bought a Toyota hybrid.
It’s good for companies to get outside of their traditional comfort zones, especially when it’s still technically in line with the internalized corporate policy. HSN continues to provide more sophisticated products to its engaged consumer (if you know HSN shoppers, you know how engaged they are), and Toyota keeps on with its ancient philosophy of constant improvement.
Companies ignoring an entire, very powerful demographic (women!!), just aren’t evolving. Good move here by Toyota.