Sports

Toyota scores well with university cricket

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on November 21, 2017 Published on March 24, 2013

There is something about Indian cricket that appeals to Toyota. And it is just not about its young brand ambassador Virat Kohli who represents the country.

For the last two months, Toyota Kirloskar Motor has been actively involved in the recently launched T-20 university cricket tourney as chief sponsor.

This may not have had the kind of big names associated with the Indian Premier League (IPL), but fitted in perfectly with the Japanese automaker’s marketing strategy.

“Toyota believes the youth hold the key to its success in India and this is where university cricket is an integral part of our plans,” Sandeep Singh, Deputy Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, told Business Line. Today’s car buyers are part of a market where youth power holds the key. They are smart, impatient and want the best products at a competitive price.

According to Singh, the Toyota University Cricket Championship was the perfect platform to showcase talent and also build the company’s ‘connect’ with the youth. “It really helped us get the message across to the players as well as the huge crowds watching the matches,” Singh says.

Slowdown helps

Toyota, like every other automaker, is targeting smaller Indian cities and towns as the future growth engines for its cars and SUVs. People here have similar aspiration levels as their counterparts in the cities and have the money to support this dream. It was a realisation that dawned upon carmakers during the slowdown of 2008-09. Since then, they have been in overdrive mode, strengthening their retail network across Tier 2, 3 centres.

It is here that the association with university cricket comes in as a handy marketing tool for Toyota. “When word gets around that here is a company reaching out to youngsters, it creates a feel-good sentiment all around. We are as delighted about supporting the cause,” Singh says. It is a bonding that these students would typically carry into their professional lives and keep the Toyota connect intact.

From these young cricketers’ point of view, this support from a big corporate brand has been a short-in-the-arm because they feel naturally dwarfed next to high-profile events like the IPL. Despite this chasm, the two-month university tourney drew in packed crowds across the country in Gwalior, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.

“It clearly showed people’s love for the game. The stadiums were jam-packed and we could not have asked for more,” Singh says. Toyota is now convinced that it has a good thing going and plans to be associated with university cricket in the years to come.

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Published on March 24, 2013
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