Mark Roden, sales director with Toyota GB spoke to AM about the new Toyota C-HR and what it means for Toyota dealers.
How important is the C-HR to the Toyota network, and why?
C-HR is incredibly important to the Toyota network as it takes us into a whole new market segment.
The crossover segment is growing rapidly, so introducing an exciting new product such as C-HR to this market gives us a great opportunity to bring new customers to the Toyota brand.
It will be very important to attract and convert these customers to help us grow the franchised network and support our partners’ investments.
How many will you sell in a full year, and what proportion are hoped to be conquest, and why?
We are planning to sell about 16,500 C-HRs in 2017, but we are not chasing volume with this car. We are confident that the C-HR will appeal to both retail and corporate customers alike, but we will not be aggressively pursuing high discount fleet channels purely for volume.
We hope conquest sales will account for 80% of the total. While there will inevitably be some cross-shopping from other cars in our range, C-HR has been designed intentionally to appeal to a new customer group – one that is younger and more motivated by qualities such as design, style and driving experience. Early indications are very encouraging, with the vast majority of enquiries being from people new to Toyota.
What type of customers will Toyota need to reach in order to sell C-HR effectively?
To achieve our 80% conquest target, it is clear that we will need to attract new customer types.
These are typically younger people, who take a more emotional approach to purchasing a car compared with our more traditional customers.
We also believe the C-HR will prove highly attractive to corporate customers, particularly the hybrid versions, which provide extremely competitive CO2 performance.
What training and/or marketing efforts will Toyota put in place to help the network reach those prospective buyers?
The launch of C-HR has probably been our biggest in terms of focus and investment since we introduced the first-generation Aygo.
Training was hugely important and we embarked on a three-stage programme for our network teams. This included a dedicated digital training app, a drive experience and week-long workshop event at Silverstone, followed with an in-dealership training programme.
We started a comprehensive central marketing campaign at the start of 2017, making a significant investment in media and activation.
Marketing is equally important and our area field teams have been working very closely with dealers to help them develop and implement their own marketing plans.