How Toyota Yaris increased its market share to an all-time high

With a series of strategic ‘flips’ Toyota Yaris was able to attract new audiences and shift perceptions of the brand.

The Yaris is Toyota’s best known model in Europe, making it disproportionately important in shaping brand perceptions. At the same time, it operates in a highly competitive yet declining segment, beloved by fiercely loyal but predictable (and ageing) buyers and is perceived by other demographics as slightly dull and worthy.

Challenging those perceptions and reaching new customers was the job handed to The&Partnership by Toyota in 2019, when the automotive brand came to launch its fifth generation of the Yaris, complete with a 10-15% price increase to boot.

Young and affluent drivers were the target market. Large scale quantitative and qualitative studies identified a series of ‘flips’ that were necessary to reach this audience: fewer features and more attitude, less tech and more energy, less spotlighting the car and more personification. To deliver this Toyota was keen to avoid clichés, and instead recruited gymnast Katelyn Ohashi to front the campaign, injecting much needed positivity and energy.

In the film she performs a specially choreographed ‘Perfect 10’ routine, transforming the moods and moments of others going about their day, before being pictured in the Yaris. Rather than opt for a typically TV-first approach, the film was shot such that it could be broken down into snippets of impactful digital content.

The results of the campaign, which launched in 2020, defied all expectations. It grew Yaris’s market share to an all-time high of 7.8%, a 1.6% increase, and placed Yaris at 3rd place in the B-segment (smaller passenger cars). All of which played a key role in helping Toyota outperform the market in 2020, despite the impact of Covid-19, and helped it win the 2021 Marketing Week Masters award for Automotive.