Toyota retained its top spot as the most purchased brand in the United States for both African-American and Asian-American consumers, but the competition is heating up, according to studies released recently by R.L. Polk & Co.
Last year, according to the Polk sample, 15 percent of all new vehicles purchased by African Americans were Toyotas. The number jumped to nearly 28 percent for Asian Americans.
Rounding out the top five among purchases by African Americans were Ford, with 11.7 percent; Chevrolet, 11.4 percent; Honda 11.3 percent; and Nissan, 10.2 percent.
After Toyota, top brands for Asian Americans were Honda, with 20.7 percent; Nissan, 6.8 percent; and Lexus, 5.2 percent. Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz tied for fifth at 4.6 percent.
The Ford brand had the largest share of the 2010 U.S. market among all consumers, with industrywide share of 15.1 percent. The others in the top five were Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
Although Toyota led both rankings, its market share declined in 2010 from 2009 as brands such as Hyundai, Ford and Volkswagen rose in the rankings, along with luxury brands Buick and Cadillac.
Ford was the only domestic brand to make the top 10 for Asian Americans, ranking No. 8 with a 2.9 percent market share. Overall, the automaker saw a 19 percent improvement in market share from the previous year among both African Americans and Asian American.
Hyundai’s percent of the market share improved 53 percent among both groups year-over-year. Volkswagen, which held the No. 10 spot in both studies, improved 21 percent among African Americans and 37 percent among Asian Americans.
Out of all brands, Buick saw the largest improvement for percentage of the market among both groups: 72.2 percent for African Americans and 58.1 percent for Asian Americans. Cadillac improved significantly as well, with a market share percentage change of 34.3 percent among African Americans and 48.8 percent among Asian Americans.
Neither luxury brand sells enough vehicles to put them among the top 10.
A growing opportunity
Polk assessed 8.6 million 2010 vehicle licenses for the study. African Americans accounted for 641,090, or 7.4 percent of the total. That was an increase of 11.5 percent over the previous year.
African Americans make up 12.9 percent of the population according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Asian-Americans accounted for 438,430 vehicles, or 5.1 percent of the study sample. That was up 10.4 percent from 2009.
Asian-Americans make up 4.6 percent of the overall population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2010, new car registrations for the total market rose 7.8 percent from the previous year.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates African-Americans will represent nearly 25 percent of the total population by 2030. The Asian-American population is expected to more than double by 2050.
This means that given continued vehicle consumption, automakers have an opportunity to increase market share among these groups, says Marc Bland, product strategist at Polk.The secret to success lies in improving products and telling people about it, he says.
The top three brands for African-Americans -- Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet -- all work with African-American marketing agencies, said Bland.
“They understand the culture, they always seem to resonate with that group and make the group feel respected and appreciated,” he said. “They seem to hit home.”