Toyota pins Corolla hopes on multicultural buyers

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. — The Toyota Corolla, a perennial top seller among light vehicles in the U.S., is on the way with a new platform and feisty personality.

The brand will need that feistiness — and some shrewd advertising — in a U.S. market where car sales are on track to fall for a fifth straight year. It has been a tough stretch that has seen car nameplates such as the Ford Taurus, Fusion and Chrysler 200 get discontinued.

Ethnic opportunity

The Corolla’s sales rank among U.S. consumer groups
Hispanics2nd
Hispanic women3rd
African-American women4th
Asians6th
Asian women6th
African-Americans7th
Women8th
All consumers11th
Source: IHS Markit registration data

While much of the market has swung to the booming crossover segment, not all consumers have backed away from cars. Toyota believes there are still pockets of opportunity for car sales with multicultural groups.

African-American, Asian and Hispanic consumers will be key targets as Toyota looks to maximize the sales potential of the 12th-generation Corolla, said Sam De La Garza, Toyota’s senior manager of small-car marketing. U.S. sales of the Corolla were down 11 percent through October.

During the 2020 Corolla sedan’s Nov. 15 reveal, he said Toyota was in the early phases of making its commercials. The sedan campaign will have a similar feel to the hatchback’s ads, which are based on the “Greater Than” tagline. Toyota said the hatchback campaign “promises a vehicle that enables drivers to live in the moment and experience life to the fullest.”

One of those spots zeroed in on millennials driving the Corolla hatchback during a wild night on the town.

“We have to get smarter on who we target,” De La Garza told Automotive News. “We’re developing ads right now that will target African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and then total market. It’s exciting but also challenging. We have to tailor our message to these four different audiences.”

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