Case Study: Southeast Toyota Distributors

social media strategy case study

Southeast Toyota Distributors is the world’s largest independent distributor of Toyota and Scion vehicles. The company, with headquarters in Deerfield Beach, FL, distributes vehicles, parts and accessories to 176 independent Toyota dealers in the five-state region of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. Sales in the southeast region surpass Toyota sales in every other part of the United States. In 2015, Southeast Toyota was responsible for selling over 480,000 Toyota vehicles in their region.

CHALLENGE: Toyota positions their venerable Sienna mini-van as the best in class in the mini-van category. Their target consumer is the proverbial “soccer mom.” The Sienna has been in production since 1998, so it doesn’t have the cachet of newer models or entries into the family-friendly mini-van category. Toyota redesigns the Sienna every five years. With a recent redesign, and in an era of online, impersonal car shopping, Southeast Toyota was looking for a way to engage their target decision maker – moms – in person. Ventura & Co. was hired to create and execute experiential programs in Southeast Toyota’s key Markets – South Florida, Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham. Our research into the lifestyle characteristics of our target – soccer moms – showed us that it would be nearly impossible to attract them to dealer show rooms, no matter the incentive. These moms lived a hectic life schedule. Most were working moms, and all of them had heavy family-oriented itineraries on the weekends. A great deal of weekend time was spent at their children’s activities, and the biggest of these, in terms of mom’s attendance, was youth sports. We determined that if we couldn’t bring soccer moms to dealer show rooms to see the Sienna, we’d take the Sienna to where they were – the soccer fields. Of all youth sports activities, we chose soccer because of it’s large, gender neutral participation base. Youth soccer attracted both boys and girls ages 4 through 17. Many soccer leagues and programs were anchored in the more affluent suburbs and thus attracted potential Sienna buyers.

SOLUTION:  We created an experiential event that focused on interaction between the product and the target consumer at youth soccer fields. We developed partnerships with the major youth soccer leagues in the the target markets – South Florida, Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham. Toyota made cash donations to these leagues for permission to have displays and hosts and hostesses at league games. We didn’t want to seem intrusive in our street team’s interactions with parents attending their children’s soccer games, so we created a reason for the parents to initiate the interaction. We hired and trained the hosts and hostesses, so that they could speak with authority on the Sienna’s features. We set up static displays on the periphery of the soccer field complexes, near the parking area, in which we displayed two Sienna vans with signage touting the features. But, most importantly, we had copious amounts of fresh brewed coffee, juice and water along with a selection of fresh bagels, bananas and apples to give away. Frazzled parents, many of who had left their homes at the crack of dawn for their kid’s early games. instantly appreciated the free coffee and other selections. While our hosts and hostesses poured coffee and handed out bagels, we invited the parents to register to win $2,500 in soccer equipment for their child’s team. This methodology was used to elicit prospect information that was later collated onto a data base that Southeast Toyota distributed to local dealers for follow up.

RESULTS: During the 90 day promotion period, we staged almost 300 events in the five target markets. More than 90,000 people registered in the sweepstakes. During the promotion period, sales of Siennas exceeded goals in all five markets, ranging from +9% to +17%.