Toyota Motor Company: Marketing Strategy

When attempting to learn about successful marketing strategies, it pays to look at companies that have rolled out successful campaigns or have achieved a high ranking among global companies. Having discovered such a company, it is then helpful to discover the various approaches they have taken to market their product and how they have positioned themselves with the average consumer. An industry that has been particularly hard-hit by recent economic issues is the auto industry, so finding a company in this industry that has experienced growth would indicate a company with a strong marketing package as a contributor to its success. One such company is Toyota Motor Company. It is listed fifth on the Global 500 with $230,201 million in revenues and $15,042 in profits. The company has recently moved up in rank following the fall of the big American auto companies, particularly GM, which still sells more cars than Toyota. According to the Global 500, “GM sales fell 6 percent on its home turf while Toyota’s sales rose 3.1 percent” (Global 500, 2009). Toyota is an international car company based in Japan and led by CEO Fujio Cho. The company employs more than 316,000 people and their cars are distributed throughout the globe with a great number sold in the United States each year. Looking into this company in greater depth, it appears that the marketing strategy is based upon a hard, accurate assessment of today’s average consumer needs.

Toyota’s marketing strategy is based largely upon the company’s various attempts to make buying easy on a public strapped for cash. They offer numerous ‘incentive’ programs that are designed to bring the overall price of buying an economical car even lower. At the same time, they offer dealer incentives to carry the vehicles and financing incentives for all. They have been attempting, relatively successfully, to position themselves as a smart choice for an economy-conscious public while also attempting to offer vehicles that would appeal to the space-conscious American consumer. While vehicles such as the SMARTcar, an all-electric option at a competitive price, are also available on the market, these are very small vehicles that most Americans have turned their heads away from because they just don’t meet the lifestyle needs of this consumer base. Toyota has been intelligent enough to develop cars that offer a similar amount of space inside at the same time that they are developing cars that achieve economical gas mileage and reliable mechanics. These are the ideas that the company has decided to capitalize on in developing its marketing strategy.

The target market for Toyota is the entire driving public. However, in developing their marketing strategy, the company has opted to target the largest consumer group within this sphere which is the middle class consumer. These consumers do have money to spend, but they want to spend it wisely in an uncertain economy. They wish to know that the products they buy are going to last because they don’t have a lot of money to throw around and they want something that provides them all of the comforts they are used to in a standard-sized car. Finally, the target market has a need for cars to be fuel efficient as they are unsure what the price of gas will be in the future as supplies seem to dwindle and resources remain controversial. To meet this particular need, the company has worked hard to develop what are known as hybrid vehicles that receive at least some of their power from electricity. This product enables them to also market to the environmentally-conscious consumer as well.

These ideas can all be discerned from the company’s website (http://www.toyota.com/). The ‘home’ page opens with a very green and blue landscape featuring the new 3rd generation Prius model parked near the center of the page on a white, somewhat reflective surface. The slogan on the page announces “harmony between man, nature and machine”, highlighting the environmental concerns the vehicle addresses while also subtly emphasizing the mechanics and engineering that’s gone into the car. By including the image at the angle in which it’s framed, the automaker also provides an impression of a larger automobile, approaching the dimensions US car buyers are seeking. There does seem to be more than one home page available, but each focus on the cars and the flexibility they provide. At the same time, the site highlights the US’s current ‘cash for clunkers’ program in which owners of ‘gas guzzlers’ are invited to turn in their old cars in exchange for as much as $4500 off the purchase of a new car. Although the site provides access to the entire Toyota line, the emphasis remains on the economy of the car throughout, as can be determined by the way in which the line is presented. The drop-down menu giving access to the vehicles lists them with an image of the car, illustrating it’s ‘full-size’ status, as well as the company’s suggested retail price and the miles per gallon each vehicle achieves. In order to learn more about the standard features, it is necessary to visit the individual page with those details. The website is also strongly concerned with making shopping for a car easy for consumers with links to local dealers, information about the company and tools for ‘building’ your own car.

Toyota’s pricing strategy seems to be largely based on what the market can handle. The TBM Consulting Group illustrates that the traditional pricing strategy builds on the idea of adding up the cost of bringing the product to the consumer plus the desired profit to be earned on that product. Increased costs of production are then passed on to the consumer as they arise and sometimes prices are established as a means of developing a hedge against future poor sales figures. Toyota’s approach is different, though, in that it looks to the market and the consumers as a means of determining what the price should be. The company then subtracts the cost of production from this number to determine what their profits might be. To achieve a higher profit, the company works to develop more efficient means of production or otherwise lower costs.

This company obviously works hard to remain in touch with its average consumer, regardless of where they may be. As a global company, they have developed a number of different websites specifically geared for major national interests so that the Toyota site pulled up in the US is different from the the Toyota site that is pulled up in the UK or in Japan. In each case, the focus is largely the same – emphasis is given to the economical price tag, the low cost of operation and the full-size space of the interior – but they are presented in ways designed to appeal more directly to the values of the people there. Pricing strategies and other features also seem to be largely the same, even the general look of the pages and the products offered seem to be very similar, but the links provided are all locally oriented on a national level, including links to national legislation such as the cash for clunkers program. It is this total focus on addressing the concerns of the consumer that I feel drives me toward this company so strongly. The American car makers have had such a strong focus on what they want to do and on the importance of allowing them to make all the decisions that they seem to have completely lost touch with what it is that the average consumer in the country wants and needs. They project an attitude of self-importance and self-involvement that is carried through in just about everything they do at the same time that they have developed a reputation for building cars that are only supposed to work for about five years before needing to be replaced. Toyota, on the other hand, gives a sense that they are taking care of their customers’ needs by taking responsibility for their products and the harm they can do at the same time that they make it clear they understand what I might need in terms of transportation.

Works Cited

  1. “Global 500.” (2009). Toyota Motor. Fortune. Web.
  2. TM Consulting Group. (2009). “Pricing Strategy.”
  3. Toyota.com. (2009). Web.

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