Toyota has long been recognized as the top-selling auto brand among U.S. Hispanic customers, but it didn’t happen overnight. From testing its first cars in the mountainous terrain of Puerto Rico, to the Corolla holding its place as the number one national selling vehicle in the Hispanic market, the Toyota brand’s successful trajectory has been a long one, and it looks as though it will continue that way, thanks to its young, energetic driver at the wheel– Javier Moreno, manager of external affairs and communications for Toyota Motor NorthAmerica (TMNA), Inc. in Plano, Texas.
Previously, Moreno served as manager of corporate communications at Toyota’s North American holding company based in New York City. His responsibilities included media and investor relations, social media, marketing communications and multicultural outreach.
Now, Moreno’s role has shifted to being a national spokesperson for the company, to establish Toyota’s public presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex through the management of media relations, government affairs and community relations.
Javier Moreno talked to Hispanic PR Blog recently, addressing topics raging from Toyota’s marketing strategy with Latinos, the brand’s (and his) involvement with national Hispanic events and conferences, and the challenges of persuading the Latino community to embrace a more green lifestyle through the use of hybrid cars.
Being involved with Hispanic initiatives/marketing isn’t new to Toyota. But it is new to a lot of other brands. What made Toyota realize this was an important demographic from the get-go?
Toyota has advertised to U.S. Latinos for more than 30 years, while many brands are just now realizing the importance of the Hispanic market and are trying to catch up. Our strategy has been both comprehensive and integrated and incorporates elements of marketing, public relations, community relations and stakeholder and influencer engagement. Toyota campaigns such as Somos Muchos Latinos celebrate the diversity within the Hispanic community, yet acknowledge that we are one family.
Toyota is involved with several Hispanic events/conferences throughout the year. Why do you feel it’s important to be involved with these events and what has the brand gained from their partnerships?
We strive to remain close to the market in order to understand each unique culture and be able to speak about the opportunities that Toyota vehicles provide in the most relevant and respectful way. Serving as a title sponsor for premier Hispanic events and conferences allows us to not only engage with the Latino community, but also thank them for their business. These connectionsare the basis of our multicultural-marketing approach and it’s why we’ve seen success in this important market.
I’ve noticed that Toyota is using social media to reach Hispanics. A lot of brands are hesitant to involve social media in their yearly campaigns, especially Latinos in social media, yet Toyota has fully embraced it. Can you tell us more about the #VayamosJuntos campaign? Who organized this campaign? Is it the Toyota internal communications team? Or do you work with an agency or a blogging network?
Hispanics are the most active group on social media in the U.S. —80 percent of Latinos are digitally engaged, according to Pew Hispanic Research. So Toyota knows they’re a target online audience. #VayamosJuntos is actually an extension of Toyota’s “Let’s Go Places” slogan. And while it’s not the literal translation, we wanted the Spanish-language slogan to truly reflect the meaning behind “Let’s Go Places.” In researching the new slogan, we found that “vamos” is the more commonly used word, but may insinuate a mandate. Meanwhile, “vayamos” is more of an invitation.
#VayamosJuntos is another example of how Toyota strives to engage Latinos in a more relevant,authentic way. We know it’s about more than simply translating from English to Spanish. Toyota Latino is managed by our internal team with support from Conill Advertising. Conill has been an excellent agency to work with over the past three decades.
Does Toyota approach their marketing towards Latinos differently than toward non-
Latinos? In other words, how does your approach differ? What data or culture quirks and customs do you notice when it comes to car buying from Latinos vs. other demographics?
The Total Toyota (T2) approach is a “total market” strategy. As the corporate communications team, we’re actively establishing deeper relationships with influential Latino communities in the U.S. through our Hispanic Business Strategy Group. Our strategy is both comprehensive and integrated.
When it comes to trends, we’ve seen that Latinos are more likely to own mainstream subcompact and compact cars, such as the Toyota Corolla, followed by mainstream mid-sized cars and then full-sized and heavy-duty pickup trucks. Hispanics are also more likely to choose a Japanese- branded vehicle over other brands. They’re also going to rely more on friends and family for information on a certain vehicle, rather than what they read in print or see on television.
How do Latinos feel about hybrid cars? Do you think it’s harder to convince Hispanics to go green than other demographics? Why or why not?
It’s a work in progress. As the creator of the Prius, Toyota knows hybrid technology and has shown that it’s a proven technology, saving American’s about $5 billion in fuel costs over the past 14 years. We have the opportunity to continue to work with the Latino community and share the benefits of hybrid technology and are doing just that.
The Prius family currently accounts for about 41 percent of all alternative fuel vehicle sales among Hispanics. And while Latinos have been slower to adopt hybrid technology, sales increased from roughly 12,701 total units sold in 2009, to more than 40,000 units 2013.
What has Toyota done to market the hybrid car and convince Hispanics to embrace a green lifestyle?
Strategies such as our social media partnership with Latino influencers such as Jon Secada aim to promote a greener lifestyle to U.S. Hispanics. Secada is a well-known and trusted public figure for Latinos and his endorsement of the Toyota Prius strengthens our message of increasing sustainability awareness within the market.
What can Hispanic consumers expect from Toyota in 2015? Will Toyota be at more events? Increase or decrease their social media presence? Launch a new advertising campaign? Etc.
Consistency is key in order to continue with our success. While we can’t share everything, we do know we’ll remain aggressive in this market and continue to promote our core products, such as the Tundra and Corolla. We’d also like to continue improving hybrid technology acceptance among Latinos. Following the 10 year milestone as no. 1 among U.S. Hispanics, we have some great things in store in order to thank our Latino consumers for their business and continuous support.