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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.
The Corolla’s sales rank among U.S. consumer groups
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.”
When it comes to crossovers, De La Garza said some believe that “ ‘minorities are just late to the trend,’ but I don’t choose that way to look at it … They’re looking for quality and they’re looking for value. They’re also looking for a car that they trust.”
IHS Markit registration data through August shows the Corolla is a strong performer with ethnic crowds.
Although the Corolla ranks 11th overall when looking at the industry as a whole, it sits at No. 2 among Hispanic buyers, trailing only the Honda Civic. It’s No. 6 among Asian buyers and No. 7 for African-American consumers.
Marc Bland, IHS Markit’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, said Toyota has done “an excellent job of creating a high affinity for the Corolla model with the overall industry, but the Corolla has a very special place in the hearts and minds of ethnic consumers.”
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