Red America Meets Toyota

Tomohiko Taniguchi
Tomohiko Taniguchi Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of System Design and Management, Keio University; CNAPS Visiting Fellow, 2004-2005

November 12, 2004

This year’s U.S. presidential election once again revealed a deep divide between “red America” and “blue,” a trend few Japanese marketers have been aware of.

Herein rushes Toyota, with the kind of car that many of those in red America love to drive to rodeos, NASCAR races, college football games, or to shop at Wal-Mart, but definitely not to drop by Starbucks for a latte: the pickup truck!

Toyota has penetrated the U.S. market by primarily attracting fuel efficiency-conscious, urban, middle class consumers, i.e., those in the blue. With little or no experience in dealing with red America, how does the car manufacturer try not only to sell the trucks but also to build brand loyalty and allegiance? Striking a good balance with U.S. automakers is important as the pickup truck remains one of the few markets not deeply penetrated by Japanese automakers.

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