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How Toyota’s safety-first app rewards drivers with mobile coupons

Toyota is releasing a new application that rewards consumers who refrain from using their smartphones while driving with mobile coupons, reflecting its efforts to promote driver safety as well as a partnership with Japanese coffee shop chain Komeda.

The partnership between Toyota and Komeda, along with KDDI, which also sponsors the app, aims to curb vehicular accidents by encouraging users to leave their phones down when driving. If they do, the app will measure the distance they drove with their phone down and reward them accordingly.

“A mobile app can provide a plethora of features businesses can use to build and keep their clientele,” said Carrie McIlveen, U.S. director of marketing at Metia. “And offering coupons can be a valuable way to attract clients and drive awareness by incentivizing through rewards.

“However, with this unique and innovative marketing app, it provides an added benefit of keeping people safe and sound.”

Driving Barista
The app, which is called Driving Barista, is the first public safety mobile app released in Japan.

Driving Barista is also Japan’s first app released in partnership with the automotive, communications and food industries. The app is specifically aimed at driving down incidents of traffic accidents in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, which has the highest rate of traffic fatalities in the country.

The app works in a fairly straightforward manner. Drivers place the phone face down on a horizontal surface such as the passenger seat of the car. For every 100 kilometers driven with the phone in this position, the driver will be awarded a coupon for a cup of coffee from Komeda.

The app makes use of a smartphone’s internal gyroscope to make sure the phone remains in a face down position. Placing the phone in an upright position in the cup-holder will not count.

The introduction of Driving Barista was in response to Aichi’s large number of traffic fatalities, along with research that claimed 60 percent of residents in the area use their smartphones while driving.

Almost half of the surveyed drivers also said that they drive with one hand on the wheel, something that Toyota and Komeda are trying to fix with the release of this new app.

Safety first
Toyota is no stranger to mobile – its Entune app connects drivers with their cars and other apps. The car manufacturer also has experience working with social campaigns and branded content in the form of emojis (see story).

Toyota has also focused on social marketing in recent months, including TV spots at this year’s Olympics (see story).

But with the introduction of Driving Barista, Toyota is putting the focus on public safety with a branded connection in a way that could curb the traffic accident rate in one of Japan’s most dangerous places to drive.

Toyota will also be using the app as an opportunity to promote the safety features of its vehicles, hoping that the app will convince drivers that Toyota’s commitment to safety extends from its digital efforts to its product line.

“This is a phenomenal use of mobile technology – it can save lives,” Ms. McIlveen said. “This shows there is room for continuous innovation through mobile and advanced thinking in how to make people safer while also building brand loyalty. 

“This form of marketing can help people to make informed and responsible decisions and in return they can enjoy a nice cup of joe.”