Toyota Creates Diversity Agency Group

Toyota is creating a unified diversity agency and media structure to address the population and buyer-power growth among Hispanics, African-American, and Asian consumers in the U.S.  

Toyota Motor Sales U.S. has for years used Conill Advertising, Burrell Communications, and InterTrend Communications for Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American markets, respectively. Now the Torrance, Calif.-based company is putting the agencies together in a plan called T2 (Total Toyota.) 

The company claims it is the top-selling auto brand among the three demographics. R.L. Polk said that for the 2012 model year, however, Honda won its “2012 Model Year Polk Automotive Loyalty Award for the Hispanic Market.” The firm said 16% of all auto sales year-to-date are in Los Angeles -- where Toyota, Honda and Nissan have strong sales. The other biggies are New York, Miami, Houston and San Antonio. Polk reports that 42% of all Hispanic sales year-to-date happened in these markets.

The new Toyota agency structure, which starts April 1, won’t eliminate each agency’s autonomy, per the automaker. Rather, it will allow for a lot more collaboration among them. Toyota's agency of record for the past two decades, Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi, will oversee the multi-agency structure. Also, Toyota's in-house multicultural marketing team will work with all product marketing teams, and the agencies will do combined media plans. Zenith will handle broadcast and out-of-home media buying.

A Toyota spokesperson tells Marketing Daily that the beauty of the program is that "best-in-class agency talent in each segment will work side by side and considering each situation differently, based on the primary, secondary and tertiary targets of particular vehicle launches or campaigns." She adds that youth is another major driver for the new organization. "Youth population doesn't distinguish between multicultural and general market; it's just one population."

The company says that among other things, Total Toyota will be charged with creating a unified messaging across diverse market demos; increase its media impact; leverage combined creativity and cultural sensibilities through focused agency teams; and connect with customers.

IHS Automotive says that through September this year, "ethnic" new-vehicle purchases accounted for 2.3 million units sold, versus 9.3 million units total. The firm's research finds that Asians accounted for 5%, African-Americans 8%, and Hispanics 11% of every new vehicle sold. IHS data also shows that between the third quarter last year and the third quarter this year growth in sales to African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic consumers far exceeded that of the general market (20%, 40% and 80%, respectively, versus 10% growth for the industry overall.) 

Jesse Toprak, president of Toprak Consulting Group, tells Marketing Daily that devoting marketing dollars to in-language media pays off, and that Nissan has benefited from that.

"The automakers that tend to get a proportionally higher Hispanic customer base are the ones that do more targeted marketing in Spanish," he says, adding that Nissan Altima and Sentra sedans; Honda Accord, Nissan Rogue, Honda Civic, VW Jetta, Nissan Versa, Honda CR-V, Nissan Pathfinder and BMW 3 Series have the highest percentage of Hispanic buyers. "You see that Nissan is the top choice here and that has a lot do with the word of mouth within the community and localized marketing in Hispanic media."

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