The Prius has been a wild success for Toyota, especially in Northern California. Since it came to market in the early 2000s, it has sailed to the number one spot among all car lines in Northern California, and it helped Toyota strengthen its position as the number one auto brand in the market. Toyota commands a 20% share of the auto industry in Northern California, which is the highest of any market in the nation. And market share in Northern California is largely dependent on Prius sales. In 2014, however, Prius’s status was being challenged. The body style had aged, and a refresh was not due for another two years. Gas prices were trending down, making Prius’s advertising message about fuel savings less relevant. In the meantime, the hybrid category had become far more competitive, with more offerings and more advertising. The agency was charged with developing a new strategy to maintain strong market share.
We needed to reinforce the perception that Prius is a leader and has consistently been a consumer favorite. Prius is number one in sales, and it is also number one in owner loyalty. We zeroed in on loyalty, leveraging the concept that Prius drivers are the happiest drivers on the road. The campaign, “Get Happy,” used the infectious and highly recognizable theme song “Come On, Get Happy” from The Partridge Family TV series.
1. We used major media to launch the campaign and build awareness of the message. This included TV, radio, and outdoor executions. We also created peripheral merchandising to reinforce the message at the dealerships— a key point in the shopping process. Additionally, all media partners provided customized promotional elements that helped further extend the message’s reach (i.e., the “Get Happy” Pandora channel, “Prius Get Happy Cam” during Giants-A’s broadcasts, and many more similar tactics).
2. We deployed our Viewpoint Marketing tactics to generate immediate sales. This included targeted messaging to likely intenders. Tactics included Prius-specific sales events as well as targeted digital and one-to-one marketing. The goal of Viewpoint Marketing is always to generate immediate conversion of shoppers into buyers.
In an industry where it is notoriously difficult to increase overall market share, Toyota gained an entire share point in just six months, largely due to campaign-driven Prius sales. In six months, Prius increased Toyota’s market share by 0.9 share points, and Toyota’s overall share increased 1.1 points.