What’s in a name?
Here’s a game of word-association. What comes to mind when you think of the Toyota Avalon? Boring? Comfortable? Conservative? Roomy? Retirement Community?
If your first thought was something related to mature drivers, you aren’t far off. According to Jack Hollis, VP of Marketing for Toyota, the median age of the current Avalon buyer is 67 years old.
Now, having an older demographic for your top model isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Del Boca Vista crowd has disposable income and is apparently full of very loyal repeat buyers of these Toyota sedans.
In fact, one could argue that Toyota really nailed their target demographic with the Avalon. The sedan has been the Toyota brand flagship in the U.S. since its introduction in 1995. It was a larger sedan based on the Camry and specifically aimed at drivers who formerly bought large American sedans. It’s difficult to conceive of now, but that first-generation Avalon featured a front bench seat and a column-mounted automatic transmission shifter.
Of course, there are challenges to such an aging demographic… let’s just say that it’s much easier to sell a young-person’s car to an older driver than an old-person’s car to a young buyer. And, as any marketing executive knows, you can’t count on repeat buyers forever if they keep aging because at some point, well… they stop aging.
The product defines the brand, so, this all-new 2013 Avalon has a difficult job to do. Toyota engineers and designers were tasked with developing a vehicle that is appealing to a younger buyer, creates a more emotional response, changes the perception of a brand name that has been unwavering in its consistency for 18 years, yet does not alienate loyal customers.