Toyota has cleaned the Big Three's clock in just about every category except one...pickup trucks. Jeff Green and Alan Ohnsman of Bloomberg Business explain why:
"The Big Three successfully beat back the Toyota incursion into the pickup market," says Brian Johnson, a Barclays (BCS) auto analyst who in 2007 predicted the Japanese company's success. "We had expected Toyota would do what they did with cars and take over the market. Their share gains have been frustratingly slow."
One reason: Toyota's full-size Tundra, which starts at $23,455, attracts a different type of buyer, data from Nielsen Claritas show. Toyota truck owners are 38 percent more likely to fly on business than typical drivers, and they lean toward hobbies like backpacking and mountain biking. Buyers of big pickups from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, however, are more likely to own a rifle to hunt than a bike to ride. Because that group of traditional truck buyers is so much larger, the Big Three has retained more than 90 percent of large pickup sales. It's a particularly lucrative win: Pickup profits range from $9,000 to $13,000 per vehicle, vs. $5,000 per car, Johnson said.
The cool response that Toyota—the world's largest auto company and America's largest producer of cars—has received to its big pickups has sent market researchers sifting through sales data for demographic and psychographic clues to the causes of its disappointing performance. They found that GM and Ford truck owners, for instance, are more likely to dine at Cracker Barrel (CBRL) restaurants, have dial-up Internet, and use the paper Yellow Pages, according to purchase data from Nielsen Claritas.
A much higher share of buyers of Toyota's big pickup dine at steakhouses, shop online, own golf clubs, and subscribe to magazines like Runner's World, the Nielsen data show. "Toyota planned for a [truck] market that really didn't exist," says Alan L. Baum, an auto analyst at Baum & Associates. "They just didn't hit a chord with buyers. It was almost comical."