Is Contrarian Purchasing a Good Savings Strategy?

Recent headlines about Toyota have no doubt been music to the ears of its major rivals -- especially Ford and GM. From a giant recall for gas pedals that stick (making the Audi 5000's sudden-acceleration PR woes look tame by comparison) to botched hybrid braking systems, Toyota's image has slid downhill faster than just about any automaker in history. Which is precisely why, if you're a contrarian, it might make sense to go out and buy a Toyota. Stay with me for a minute here. In fact, the strategy of contrarian buying is one that we should all consider more often in our procurement careers. First, let's consider the case for plunking down your hard-earned dollars on an automotive brand that can't seem to get either acceleration or braking right.

Over on a blog, Jill Schlesinger recently opined that "the Toyota recall will be a great buying opportunity." The crux of her argument: "[what] better time to buy a car than at the moment the company is hyper-focused on safety? Maybe Toyota will even offer incentives, something it has avoided in the past. So I'm getting ready to land myself a sweet deal from Toyota and if I'm wrong, I promise to write extensively about the problems I encounter." Certainly, Toyota will begin to offer incentives to earn back the trust of buyers; it's just a question of when (moreover, let's hope that this incident goes a long way toward making Toyota painfully aware of its general fall from top-quality grace in recent years).

In crises, suppliers will often go out of their way to reassure buying organizations, and situations like this often present the best possible time to ink a deal. The key then becomes -- in a procurement as well as a consumer context -- making a judgment call about whether the supplier is likely to survive the crisis intact (which, as we know, is not always the case). At times like this, it's essential to factor supply risk into the buying equation. If you can get comfortable with the odds, why not take advantage of a situation when everyone else is running as far away from the supplier as possible?

Jason Busch

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