Honda is approaching the redesigned version as a "brand new completely changed model from the one we had before," says Susie Rossick, assistant vice president of Honda marketing at American Honda Motor Co. Honda kept the moniker, rather than creating a new one, because "we like the name Insight and it works very well for this category."
The campaign plays up the car's styling because research revealed the top turnoff for potential hybrid buyers is ugly design.
The Insight has a long road to travel to catch the Prius. While Prius U.S. sales were down 16 percent year-to-date through June, Toyota still sold 46,171 of them, after recording 108,662 sales all of last year. The Insight peaked in 2010, with 20,962 sales.
The redesigned Insight faces market headwinds in the U.S. Total vehicle sales are edging down from 2016's record pace, and pickups, crossovers and SUVs — not cars — are dominating, says Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs. Also, the fuel economy benefits of hybrids don't seem to be carrying as much weight with consumers as they once did.
The Insight must fight for share not only with Prius but with others competitors like Hyundai's Ioniq hybrid and the Kia Niro crossover.
Rossick says Honda's goal "isn't really to overtake the Prius. Prius has a lot of brand equity." Rather, Honda wants to lure buyers "that are looking for a really great looking sedan that just happens to be a hybrid." She said that Honda has already sold roughly 850 Insights since sales began in late June, and "we haven't even done any support for it. We are seeing the interest."
The campaign begins this week, but media support will kick into a higher gear in the fall with the arrival of better TV programming options, Rossick says. She declined to reveal spending figures.