Commentary

Toyota Finds Its Groove With Racing Sponsorship

There’s an expression that automotive dealers have long observed: “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” 

Simply put, the cars that do well on the race track on Sunday are the ones that consumers will be interested in taking a look at the following week. It’s why automakers put big money into sponsoring racing teams. The average amount sponsors invest in a racing team is $15 million, according to UberMedia.

On Toyota’s 10-year anniversary, an UberMedia Business Intelligence Study quantified the Japanese manufacturer’s success of becoming integral to American racing culture. The 2017 Daytona 500 marked Toyota’s 10th year in the NASCAR Cup Series and a decade of integrating its sedan, the Toyota Camry, into American automotive culture.

To quantify Toyota’s success at grabbing the attention of NASCAR fans, UberMedia used their proprietary mobile location data analysis to look into the effect that Toyota’s NASCAR participation has had on influencing people to visit actual dealerships. Additionally, UberMedia looked into how winning a NASCAR race influenced spectators to later visit dealerships of the participating brands (Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota).

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Automakers who spend the millions on racing sponsorships will be happy to hear that, indeed, people who saw a given manufacturer win were more likely to visit that manufacturer after the race. Toyota dealerships saw the strongest positive correlation between a win and an increase in visits from race attendees. Regardless of who won, NASCAR race attendees were more likely to visit any auto dealership after attending a race.

NASCAR fans are an obsessive bunch. Ask a fan who their favorite driver is and then prepare for a 30-minute lecture. And it’s not just men. UberMedia found that 40% of NASCAR fans are women and 30% of NASCAR fans can name every sponsor of top 30 ranked cars. An impressive 12.5 million households watched the Daytona 500 alone. 

The Daytona 500 is a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race held annually in February at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is the most prestigious and top-rated NASCAR event. The Speedway holds 100,000 seated spectators. With general admission it is estimated that there are 250,000 fans that attend, making the Daytona 500 the third most-attended sporting event in the country.   

Currently, Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota all participate as manufacturers in the Cup Series, producing stock cars that are meant to resemble production-based American family sedans.

Toyota announced it was joining NASCAR in 2006 and was met with some opposition. According to one critic, “Not everyone [was] pleased that Japanese automaker Toyota [was prepared] to join the ranks of America’s most celebrated good ol’ boys.” However, The New York Times noted Toyota was committed “to [getting] many of the estimated 75 million NASCAR fans in the United States to notice Toyota and, of course, buy one.”

The Toyota Camry was introduced into the NASCAR Cup Series in 2007 and is an official sponsor. Toyota won the Daytona 500 in 2016 — the first time an import manufacturer won since the first race in 1959. It is currently the only import manufacturer to participate.  In January, Toyota released the 2018 Toyota Camry TRD, in part, aimed at NASCAR fans.

Data shows Toyota has found its place in NASCAR. UberMedia’s Business Intelligence Study revealed that mobile device owners in attendance at a race where a Toyota Camry won were also more likely to be observed at a Toyota dealership in the 30 days after the race. UberMedia saw a 25.2% change when we compared that to the race attendees who visited a Toyota dealership in the 30 days before a race. 

When compared to the percent change Ford (3.6%) and Chevrolet (2.5%) saw, it looks like Toyota is winning more than just races.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on March 21, 2017, in this newsletter.

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