Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mis-marketing to Boomers: Toyota

About a year ago the fine folks at Toyota launched a new TV and Web campaign targeting Boomers for their Venza crossover vehicle (between a car and an SUV).

We took them to task on the ad campaign, not to be mean, but to be instructive for other marketers. We presented two basic points: The campaign intentionally presented the Venza not only as a vehicle for Boomers, but also expressly NOT a car for anyone under 35. We said it was dumb to eliminate half of the potential buyers with ads that communicate this is not a car for you.

Our belief is that you can do marketing to Boomers that doesn't turn away younger consumers. The opposite is not usually possible. Ads targeting the young often turn off older consumers.

Our second point was that the ad campaign itself, while funny, was also actually disparaging to the very Boomers they were targeting.

Our full rant is in this op/ed that ran last summer.

So what happened to sales? Were our predictions correct?

(Would we be posting this if we were wrong?)

According to publicly-available data, Venza sales did not rebound in 2011. The latest data we can find shows this following:

  • For the 11 months immediately preceding the campaign launch, Toyota sold 36,051 Venzas.
  • For the 11 months since the launch, Toyota has sold 31,535 Venzas, a sales decline of 12.5%

Of course, overall Toyota sales year-to-date are up 25%.

Bottom Line for Marketers: Targeting Boomers and consumers over 50 can work for you, but you have to get it right. There may be other issues with the Venza that are affecting sales volume, but this campaign isn't helping.

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