– Thoughts on Strategy and Management

Toyota Auris in Germany – Revisited

I had an Auris experience yesterday which made me revisit my old post about the Auris advertising campaign in Germany in February. My little experience is definitely not representative for what is going on on Germany’s roads, since I haven’t been using my car very much over the last couple of months. However, yesterday’s strike of locomotive drivers in Germany forced me to go to work by car. On my way back home when I was driving slowly on the crowded motorway it happened – I realised that the car in front of me was an Auris. Actually it was the first real Auris besides some promotion activities I saw on a street!

As mentioned, I don’t spend much time on the street at all, so there will be some more Auris cars than just the one I saw. Nevertheless, it took me nine months to discover the first one. Given the fact that I always was deliberately looking out for the Auris cars, this is a fairly long time. This is a good reason to have a look at the latest sales statistics (available in German language only):

  • Toyota sold 110,741 cars under the brands Toyota and Lexus in Germany during the months January to October 2007. This gave them a combined market share of 4.2 %, compared to 4.3 % in January to December 2006. Hence, the Auris did not improve their overall market share so far.
  • The Toyota Corolla had a market share of 1.25 % in Germany in 2006. Over the first ten months of 2007, The Auris reached a market share of only 0,6 % (15,347 units sold). However, the Corolla sold another 21,165 units in January to October 2007, which led to a market share of 0.8 %. Thus, the combined market share of the predecessor (Corolla) and the successor (Auris) was 1.4 %, which is a small increase.

So what does that tell us?

  • The Auris car obviously did not lead to the big breakthrough for Toyota in Germany so far and I doubt that it will do so later on.
  • The sales figures for the Auris are not as bad as they may look on first sight. As in most countries, German car buyers are very price sensitive. When a new model is launched the still unsold units of the predecessor model are sold at a considerable discount, just to get rid of them. Thus the Corolla had cannibalized its younger brother. Next years sales figures will be more interesting since they will be far less influences by this effect.

That leads to the final questions: Was the huge advertising campaign for the Auris car a success or a waste of money? The answer is – I don’t know. You could argue that it didn’T have any impact on the market share of Toyotas compact car models in Germany at all. But on the other hand, you don’t know what their market share would look like without this campaign. It might be even lower.
I once heard a really nice saying about this problem: Every marketing professional knows that half of his advertising budget is completely wasted. The problem is, you don’t know, which half is the wasted one.

Buy the way, the advertising campaigns that accompanied the global rollout of the Auris car seemed to have provoked some questions elsewhere too. As Sarah Britten wrote in her blog, the Auris was advertised as being “exceptional” in South Africa. I agree with her doubts that as one of thousands of Auris drivers on their roads that you’ll hardly be “exceptional”.