The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Toyota Introduces its Next Generation of Cars to the Next Generation of Buyers

22 September 1999

Toyota 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
    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,, 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
    "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
    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,