Toyota Takes New Marketing Path

The June launch of Toyota Motors Sales’ youth-oriented Scion vehicle will be supported by a specially created “discovery zone” in dealer showrooms throughout California, the car maker said. Included will be a 50-inch plasma screen and Internet kiosks that will enable buyers to customize their order as part of a “personalized” experience.

At a “coming out party” for the Scion at the Greater L.A. Auto Show last week, Toyota executives stressed that the model’s marketing effort will rely heavily on the showroom experience and nontraditional marketing approaches. Although the agency retained by Toyota for the Scion launch, Attik in San Francisco, is creating some television work to support the California-only June intro, promotional efforts are mostly aimed at encouraging potential buyers to experience the Scion first hand, they said.

“It makes perfect sense to launch this line here in California—the hotbed of youthful trends in the automotive field,” said Jim Press, chief operating officer of Toyota’s U.S. operation.

James Farley, the Toyota vice president responsible for Scion, added that the vehicle, a cross between a SUV and a hatchback and priced from $16,000, represents a new approach to selling that is “fresh, comfortable and transparent.”

Farley noted that after the first two Scion models are introduced in California, in February 2004 the vehicle will be offered in the South and East. In June 2004, Toyota plans to complete the national rollout and add a third Scion model to its product lineup.