Have car, don’t drive: How market research solved the mystery of car renters who didn’t drive the car anywhere

Making the rounds last week was a news article in The Asahi Shimbun sharing their mysterious problem that a lot of people in Japan were renting cars but never driving them. Given that the company earns at least part of their revenue from mileage, not driving a rental vehicle cuts into their bottom line. It’s seems pretty straight forward that people who rent cars want to drive cars but it’s also pretty clear that the company didn’t know their customers as well as they thought they did. They needed to turn to market research.


Bring in a little Monday morning quarterbacking and the answer is obvious. In a highly dense, busy, and stressful environment like Tokyo, people needed a quiet, private, and secure location in which to conduct their business – eat their lunch, have a nap, store packages while they shopped, take a phone call, or have a meeting. Given the price to rent a vehicle, the value and convenience simply couldn’t be beat.

If a car rental company doesn’t know who their customers are, then how likely is it that you know who your customers are? Are people drinking your delicious beverage or using it to clean their toilet? Are they using condoms to have protected sex or to keep digital devices dry, mouthwash to clean their mouth or to freshen garbage cans, aspirin for headaches or to treat bug bites?

Sure, it’s important to understand how your customers are using your product, but it’s also important to understand how people are “misusing” your product. Once you know this, you can then change your packaging and marketing to target a new audience and build your consumer base beyond the original growth plan.

Face it. We aren’t all Steve Jobs, so smart that he never needed to use research (unless you realize that market research is a very large toolbox incorporating all types of consumer discovery tools that he did in fact use when the task was suited to them).

Mysteries abound in the consumer world. Marketers and brand managers can’t know everything all the time, and mysteries aren’t always so blatantly obvious until after the data has been collected and analyzed.


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Canadian Viewpoint is a one-stop market research data collection and fieldwork company. For over 40 years, we have been trusted by clients ranging from global Fortune 500 companies to local, boutique market, social, and academic research firms and offering top-quality solutions for offline, online, qualitative, and quantitative fieldwork. We specialize in providing high-quality solutions for offlineonline, qualitative, and quantitative fieldwork. As long-term members of the Insights Association, accredited members of the Canadian Research and Insights Council (CRIC), and corporate members of ESOMAR, we uphold the highest industry standards. Our diverse range of services includes sampleprogramming and hostingmall interceptscentral location recruitmentmystery shoppingin-home usage tests (HUTS)sensory testingshelf testingcomputer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI)Facial Coding, and other cutting-edge technologies. Explore our website to learn more about our offerings and access our demo site to experience our tools firsthand.

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