Toyota isn’t just winning the battle for Hispanic consumers — it’s dominating the nation’s second-largest ethnic group, in a triumph that’s more than 30 years in the making.
The brand accounted for five of the top six nameplates sold to Hispanics in 2022, according to U.S. new-vehicle registration data from S&P Global Mobility.
The Toyota RAV4 crossover led the way, followed by the Corolla and Camry sedans in third and fourth place, the Tacoma pickup in fifth and the Highlander crossover in sixth. Only Chevrolet’s Silverado pickup, at No. 2, stopped Toyota from a clean sweep of the upper ranks.
Such a showing doesn’t happen out of nowhere. Toyota Motor North America said it’s a byproduct of a long-running, concerted effort to engage Hispanic consumers. The automaker began working with its Hispanic advertising agency, Conill Advertising, in 1987 to build authentic connections with these buyers, said Lisa Materazzo, group vice president of Toyota marketing.
“We are very excited about what the future holds, because we know the Hispanic population just continues to increase in importance,” she told Automotive News. “Not only the number of Hispanic consumers, but the purchasing power that they represent, which is near $2 trillion. And I’m personally excited by the fact that the Hispanic demographic skews younger because I think that brings some exciting opportunities and different ways to engage and connect with this population.”
Toyota has rooted its ad strategy in delivering relatable content. It has partnered with the Latin American Music Awards, formed relationships with social media influencers and leveraged the community’s love of soccer by crafting spots around the World Cup tournament that happens every four years.
Conill has “the deep cultural insight into the market that we know is key to connecting with these consumers,” Materazzo said. “It’s actually a strategy that we have not only with our Hispanic consumers, but also with African American and with Asian American consumers. It is a key part of our go-to-market strategy to be partnering with multicultural agencies that have this deep understanding of who we’re speaking to.”
The Toyota brand has been No. 1 among Hispanics for 19 consecutive years. The Hispanic contribution to the brand’s overall U.S. sales has doubled to 24 percent in 2022 from 12 percent in 2010.
The RAV4, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Tacoma and Sienna minivan were all No. 1 in their segment for Hispanics last year.
The sales results within the Hispanic community tell an intriguing story.
For one, sedans are still valued commodities. The industry has largely phased out sedans in favor of crossovers and SUVs, but Hispanic buyers continue to turn to them.
Toyota and Honda have remained committed to the sedan space, continuing to churn out the Camry, Corolla, Accord and Civic. All four are among the top 10 vehicles sold to Hispanics in 2022, according to Marc Bland, chief diversity officer of S&P Global Mobility. In total sales, only the Camry remains in the top 10.
Bland said Toyota is reaping the benefits of a broad portfolio that has aligned the brand with the “future majority.” Looking at the country’s evolving demographics, Bland pointed to the U.S. Census projection that the three largest minority groups — Hispanics, African Americans and Asians — will represent a majority of the population by 2045.
“They offer the full scale and therefore give these future majority consumers freedom of choice with a high focus on their Camry and Corolla cars that these consumers have a strong affinity for,” Bland said of Toyota.
Bland said Toyota is always looking for new ways to reach minority populations and that its consistency in tailoring content for these groups is bearing fruit.
“They’re always digging in and working with their agencies of record, which is another key, that they do have an agency of record for Hispanics, and all OEMs do not have that,” Bland said. “They’ve had one for a long time.”
Shane Helms remembers how Toyota was viewed during his days at Univision, the Spanish-language TV network. Helms, who was the network’s vice president of automotive overseeing the northeastern U.S., said the automaker’s ad presence each quarter was unwavering.
On top of the general market advertising, Helms said Toyota has been reaching Hispanic buyers by speaking to them in their own language and being attuned to their culture.
“When I was at Univision, we called them a 10.0 marketer because … whether it’s Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, they were consistent in the messaging,” said Helms, now vice president of new business for Constellation, a New York-based digital marketing agency. “It’s just always been this level of consistency, so I think the Hispanic consumer, they appreciate that. That’s probably why you’re seeing the sales effect that they’re having as well. It’s a brand that’s always top of mind, top of consideration.”
Toyota tapped into the Hispanic audience in numerous ways last year. It launched the “Never Settle” campaign in October that comprised seven broadcast commercials from its roster of multicultural agencies touching on various themes.
Conill created a spot for that campaign called “Not Yet” that illustrated “how Latinos push forward and never give up on their goals,” the automaker said. A social media portion features Katya Echazarreta, an engineer who was the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space.
Echazarreta and other influencers shared their stories and encouraged the Hispanic audience to keep pushing. Toyota “brought this to life in many other different forms and even had a component that awarded scholarships to people,” Materazzo said.
Toyota drew inspiration from last year’s World Cup with content centered on soccer’s youngest fans. One ad showed jersey-clad children sleeping on their way home from their games. “We all dream of becoming world champions,” the spot’s narrator says. “Some are already working on it.”
A digital element showed parents predicting the winners of the tournament while their kids rooted for their local teams.
“To add even more humor and authenticity to that, we featured popular Hispanic sports broadcasters in those executions,” Materazzo said. “The overarching theme of all the work really called on the audience to never stop believing, to dream big, to reach for their dreams and to root for their favorite teams. We know that mindset of ‘never stop dreaming, never stop striving, never settle’ resonates really well with the Hispanic audience.”
Toyota doesn’t refer to Conill or its other multicultural agencies as vendors, Materazzo said. They’re considered partners that work together closely to stay on top of a market that continues to diversify.
The company’s Total Toyota strategy instituted in 2014 fosters cooperation among all four agencies. While the ad units remain separate businesses, they collaborate on creative and media strategies to unify messaging and more effectively express Toyota’s brand promise.
“It’s a privilege to truly work with a company like them because they don’t just make great products,” Anabel Ordoñez, Conill’s management director, told Automotive News. “There’s really great people behind the work that’s being made, so they absolutely have been a great partner.”