Toyota Introduces its Next Generation of Cars to the Next Generation of Buyers
22 September 1999Toyota Introduces its Next Generation of Cars to the Next Generation of Buyers
Company Creates New Industry Standard in Marketing to Young Adult Market DETROIT, Sept. 21 -- Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. today unveiled a radical new marketing campaign that reflects the same healthy dose of performance, attitude and futuristic styling that characterize its new sub-brand of cars. The ECHO subcompact and Celica sports coupe, available in showrooms in October, and the MR2 Spyder roadster, to be launched in Spring 2000, were specifically designed to reach the multi-billion-dollar young adult market. Toyota's innovative marketing strategy represents a dramatic departure from what is typical in the auto industry. The company will reach out to young adult consumers through such non-traditional media as "Spike Radio," the country's first and most popular Internet radio system; extensive promotional and sponsorship programs including NBC Sports Gravity Games and the national network of Sports & Social Clubs of the U.S. (SSCUS); and an unprecedented marketing collaboration with Time Warner. In conjunction with the media giant, Toyota will produce a value-added multimedia music tour of major U.S. cities that brings together music, art, literature and fashion. The URL of a new Internet web site, http://www.isthistoyota.com, provides insight into the cultural revolution that the marketing approach has created within Toyota. The web site delivers product-rich information through an all-visual, text-free multi-media format and will play a critical role in reaching the young buyer, who is engrossed in this medium and expects an outstanding and value-added user experience. A direct mail outreach, echoing the challenging and futuristic tone of the advertising campaign, also will support the introduction of the new vehicles. The highly focused effort will reach 20,000 young adult consumers who are new to the Toyota brand. A national advertising campaign delivers the unexpected and is a significant deviation from the auto industry "one model" marketing standard. In a futuristic television spot, Toyota declares "a revolution starts with one act of defiance" and pays off with the punch line "we have three" over a grouped shot of the three vehicles. The campaign effectively positions the three new models as a powerful, distinctive sub-brand within the Toyota franchise. "We've made a strategic marketing decision to move in a new direction -- to respond and even anticipate the needs of younger buyers -- and we have developed the cars, pricing and campaigns to appeal to their demand for personalization and customization," notes Jim Press, TMS executive vice president. "Beyond a top-performing, affordable and well-designed 'first car' offering, we are providing young buyers with a choice among three distinctive automotive styles. This choice is a critical purchase motivator for a generation that is not easily defined and targeted in traditional marketing terms," he said. Toyota tapped into the emotions and needs of its young customers, using both quantitative and qualitative research. The company went everywhere young consumers could be found -- rock concerts, beaches, shopping malls, college campuses and even local pubs -- to speak one-on-one with young people who, as 51 percent of the U.S. population, are critical to Toyota's future growth. The team behind the unorthodox research methods is an internal eight-member strategic marketing group dubbed "genesis." The group, headed by 35-year-old marketer Mark Del Rosso, consists of 25- to 35-year-olds recruited from diverse business units of the organization. A little less than a year ago, they set up shop at Toyota's sales headquarters in California to channel their creativity, enthusiasm and passion for the motor industry into the newest generation of Toyota products. With access to everyone from chief engineers in Japan to the highest levels of senior management in California, genesis influenced everything from the marketing dynamics to such details as the design of wheel caps and interior sound systems that would appeal to the sensibility and value savvy of young buyers. "Our approach is more far-reaching than simply recruiting a pop icon or personality to sell products. We are committed to respecting the intelligence of the consumer," says Del Rosso. "Our efforts focus on providing all the information they need to make their own decisions." The Toyota ECHO sedan delivers interior roominess, styling and packaging that departs from convention, starting at just $9,995. The ECHO's 1.5-liter engine gives drivers the power and performance they need while offering the highest-mileage rating (38/52 city/highway) in its class. The 2000 Celica, starting at $16,695, features a cab-forward design that includes dramatic plunging curves and a cockpit-style interior where all the controls are within arm's reach. The quick, lightweight and sporty coupe is powered by an all-new 1.8-liter, 180 horsepower engine (GT-S model), and features improved output and fuel efficiency and a six-speed manual transmission. Young consumers had their first opportunity to interact with the ECHO and the Celica at the Gravity Games, an extreme sports competition aimed at the 18- to 34-year-old age group, held September 5 to 12 in Providence, R.I. Similarly, Toyota is the official vehicle of Sports & Social Clubs of the U.S. (SSCUS), a national organization that provides grassroots activities to young, active professionals. Toyota's desired consumer will be able to experience the new cars at sports leagues, travel and community activities, as well as social and holiday events. Toyota also is title sponsor of two prestigious SSCUS events, the Toyota National Beach Volleyball Tournament and the Toyota National Winter Football Classic. "The difference that Toyota brings to this market, aside from the superior technology and quality of our cars, is a genuine commitment to the young adult market that other auto companies simply don't share," notes Press. "It is this commitment to the consumer that has enabled Toyota to cultivate the lifetime loyalty of baby boomers and we are confident that we will succeed -- albeit in a completely different way -- with their children and grandchildren as well." For more information, please visit the newest Toyota website, http://www.isthistoyota.com.