The auto industry seems to be in a constant revival. Every year, the media becomes obsessed with new vehicles and equipment packages, comparing what automakers offer with user expectations.
It’s hard to succeed in this market, but Toyota succeeds. According Statista, the Japanese company It produced 7.5 million vehicles in 2020 and sold 9.5 million, suggesting that users were starving for Toyota cars and trucks, purchasing older models from dealer lots.
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Likewise, this multinational has a market capitalization of $ 254,000 million dollars and vehicles that regularly rank at the top of their respective classes in consumer defense sites such as Consumer Reports and Edmunds.
All of this tells us that Brand loyalty is important to Toyota. Although the news focuses on new vehicles, the company’s success shows that it has a deeply loyal consumer base. Toyota’s continued prestige would not be achieved if they did not get things right from year to year.
In interview for Digital Trends in Spanish, we talked with Tyler McBride, Senior Brand Manager, Vehicle Crossline Marketing and Growth Audiences at Toyota, to discover how the Hispanic market influenced the success of the company in the US. This community is critical to the company, and Toyota knows it.
What has been the key to Toyota’s success in the US Hispanic market?
First of all, the Toyota product is exceptional and that is important to anyone’s success in this market; the Hispanic community sees the product and understands the value it brings. In addition, the variety of vehicles we offer has been attractive to the Hispanic market for generations. We have a long-term commitment to this group of consumers: we have worked with Conill, one of our registry agencies, for 35 years, and our collaboration with Conill is focused on Hispanic Americans in the US.
I suppose that beyond that, of the investments in marketing and in the media, at Toyota we really take the time to research and learn about different groups, especially the Hispanic community in the United States. We know that one product will not be ideal for everyone, we really understand what matters most to our customers and in this way we try to make a connection.
Do you have any idea what the Toyota vehicle is most popular in the US Hispanic market?
There are three of them: the Corolla, the RAV4 and the Camry.
That is more or less what we assumed …
Sure, we have vehicles that are leaders in other markets, like the Highlander or the Sienna. You’ve probably seen the numbers: Digital Trends published an article a few weeks ago where they note that auto sales among Hispanics, throughout the industry, make up about 16 percent of the total, while for us they represent almost 23 percent of our sales. And if you go back 10 years it’s the same; the only difference is that the gap has grown since 2010. We now have an even bigger lead in terms of Hispanic American contributions versus the overall market, in terms of sales.
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Interesting. Why do you think Toyota is leaving others behind?
It has to do with what I was saying: We make a great product, we work hard to understand our audience and it’s something that has been respected for generations, and as a result, our success in the Hispanic market continues to grow.
For the Hispanic American consumer, quality is very important (yes, it is important for everyone, but for the Hispanic, quality and style really matter). Quality means durability and reliability, but also safety, and Toyota delivers that. The Hispanic market sees it and places great importance on it, and this has fueled our success over the years.
How have Hispanic consumers in the United States reacted to the availability of hybrid vehicles in Toyota’s offering?
At first they were slow to give them a chance, but this has completely changed. Right now, 75 percent of Hispanics have said they would consider purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle when looking for their next car. That’s nine points higher than among non-Hispanic consumers. If we had asked this question a few years ago, the number would not have been that high, so it is growing. There have been some barriers, but Toyota offers many more options than before and acceptance has been greater. We are excited that this trend among Hispanics will grow in the future.
You talked about making a quality product that appeals to Hispanics for obvious reasons. Has Toyota had to do something differently to appeal to the Hispanic market? Is there something specific that contributes to this success?
The most important thing to do is to speak authentically to your audience. You can’t create an ad, for example, and expect it to appeal to everyone you want to buy your cars, or to work just by translating it into another language. It matters a lot that you speak authentically, and at Toyota we take the time to understand the market, whether through special research, identifying insights, and implementing them in the hope of creating a campaign that is authentic and targeted at, in this case , the Hispanic market in the United States.
How has Toyota seen the evolution of the Hispanic market in the US for a decade?
Good question. “Evolution” is a good word, because it keeps changing. In the last 10 years we have increased our involvement with the Hispanic public through digital platforms (that is something that has changed); we have really gotten involved with such platforms. And we have done it through media integration, but also by harnessing the power of influencers Online: We prioritize mobile and social to observe the evolution of behaviors of Hispanics on those platforms. As a brand we are always looking for what is coming, what could we be doing on TikTok or on Twitch, two platforms that have gained popularity very quickly, and not only among tweens, but also among millennials and young professionals.
Has Toyota observed any kind of trends or changes in behavior among Hispanics in the United States during the pandemic?
Yes. In general, the trend has been an increase in the use of technology during the pandemic, especially if we are talking about electronic commerce. The auto industry in general, with the pandemic, was very interesting. At first it was a challenge: plants closed, consumer confidence plummeted, but then that changed. From a sales perspective, there was a drop in 2020, although the market recovered very quickly by the end of the year. Likewise, the drop in sales in the Hispanic market was less than that of the rest: they fell 6 percent versus 10 percent for the non-Hispanic market.
In 2021 we see that sales in the Hispanic community have grown faster than in other markets, so the trend continues a year earlier, up nearly 50 percent versus just 36 percent in the non-Hispanic market. And it’s funny that it says “just” 36 percent; The market is doing very well, it is a difficult time to buy a car (we still have inventory problems), but Hispanics are twice as likely to buy or rent a new vehicle in the next 12 months. We at Toyota continue to do what we do well, offer great products, and evolve to meet the needs of the Hispanic market as it evolves as well.
How have Hispanic consumers in the US reacted to the semi-autonomous driving systems integrated into vehicles?
About what is really valuable to our Hispanic customers, we talk about quality, which has to do with reliability and durability but also with safety. So when we talk about some of these new technologies, there is an overriding theme about safety, and at Toyota we continually try to communicate that a key, if not the most important, benefit is safety. But we also know that sometimes the Hispanic consumer wants to investigate something more, although we have seen that the acceptance of these systems is increasing, in the same way that with hybrid technology. A) Yes, 61 percent of Hispanics would be willing to pay more for the latest safety technology for their vehicle, compared to 59 percent of non-Hispanics. More than half of the members of this community said that a safer vehicle is an automotive innovation that interests them as a reason to buy, and the safety features they look for the most in a vehicle are things like blind spot assist, automatic emergency braking, cruise control with dynamic radar.
Now, when it comes to the more autonomous functions that we see in the media today, they are also of great interest to Hispanics: three-quarters see those innovations as very important and as something that can help save lives. I should point out that the Toyota Safety Sense package, which includes many of the features I mentioned a moment ago, is standard on basically all Toyota models, and this is really appealing to Hispanic consumers.
What challenges or opportunities does Toyota see for the Hispanic market in the United States for the next 10 years?
The challenge at this time for the Hispanic consumer has to do with increased competition in the market, both in terms of competitive products and attracting the consumer, in addition to targeted marketing efforts. That said, we at Toyota have been speaking and selling to Hispanics for over 35 years. That gives us a competitive advantage. As this population grows in size there will be more competition, but we will be well positioned to continue to do well, and our track record in terms of sales and loyalty further demonstrates this. Another challenge is that the Hispanic market in the US is younger than the non-Hispanic market, and for them it is the most authentic message, to continue creating loyalty among our Hispanic customers, especially millennials and members of Generation Z. We really must focus on the younger markets if we want to continue our success in the years to come.