The "It" Car for Gen Y?

After choosing a strategy for reaching a target market, marketers must then decide how best to position the product (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.257). The concept of positioning seeks to place a product in a certain "position" in the minds of prospective buyers (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.257). It is the act of designing the company's offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market (Kotler, 2003, p.308). Marketers use a positioning strategy to distinguish their firm's offerings from those of competitors and to create promotions that communicate the desired position (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.257).

How is Scion addressing its target market with regard to positioning and the product itself? Toyota's approach with Scion's marketing has been very unique. Rather than blanketing the country with lots of television and magazine ads, its focus is on smaller, much targeted campaigns (Crouch, 2005).

Gen Y consumers are unique (Autoweek.com). They are information rich, time poor, and technology savvy (Autoweek.com). The psychographics of the target market include: intelligent, innovative, and influential (Autoweek.com). The demographics of the target market include: predominantly male; age—twenties to early thirties; urban diversity; college educated, and above average income (Autoweek.com).

In targeting the Gen Y crowd, Toyota found traditional ways of marketing did not work (Banks, 2005). Toyota views twenty-somethings as pretty jaded about marketing, so they've purposefully tried to position themselves as simply facilitating these "hip" events, such as putting on a great urban/graffiti art tour; hosting big popular nightclub parties monthly in 6 metropolitan cities; a tour of "cult music films" on college campuses; and distributing a magazine that includes funky pictures of customized Scions (Crouch, 2005). In Toyota's latest move, they've decided to start a record label (Crouch, 2005).

Jim Farley, vice president of Scion, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. thinks, "Scion's marketing success can be judged by the emotional connection a dealership makes with young people in a community" (Banks, 2005). "Slowly but surely, you'll find you're building a grassroots movement in your community," says Farley (Banks, 2005). Toyota has created an emotional bond by targeting opinion leaders through music, lifestyle, and culture (Autoweek.com). Adam Crouch, Business Analyst at Ultra Mega Financial Corp™ says, "If you want a brand to be "cool" and have "street cred", grassroots is certainly much more effective than mass media.

Is the product design its own form of positioning? How? In my opinion, the product design is its own form of positioning. The last thing a young buyer wants is a "cookie-cutter" car (Kichen). Scion's solution: a toy chest of accessories, such as interior lighting, taillight dress-up kits, carbon-fiber shift knobs, and sports mufflers (Kichen). Accessories aren't put on at the factory; instead they are either dealer-installed or added at a central distribution center (Kichen). About the only "option" list items are color and transmission (Kichen).

"It's got all the important things included as standard," says Charles Sena, 76, of Mount Pleasant (Burke). Scion's allure to Gen Y is its uniqueness and the ability for personalization, customization; individuality; creativity, and lifestyle that can be expressed freely.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of targeting a specific age group? Many firms identify market segments on the basis of consumers' ages. They develop some products specifically to meet the needs of people in certain age groups (Boone & Kurtz, 3002, p.240). Age distribution and projected changes in age group are important to marketers because consumer needs and wants differ notably among age groups (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.240).

Rather than trying to market its products separately to several segments, Scion has opted for a concentrated marketing strategy. With concentrated marketing (also known as niche marketing), a firm focuses its efforts on profitably satisfying only one market segment (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.256), such as Generation Y. The main reason that concentrated marketing (or niching) is profitable is that the market nicher ends up knowing the target customers so well that it meets their needs better than other firms selling to this niche casually (Kotler, 2003, p.271). Niching allows for specialization, which is the "key idea in nichemanship" (Kotler, 2003. p.271).

Niching carries a major risk in that the market niche might dry up (Kotler, 2003, p.271). Obviously, concentrated marketing only gives you part of a total market. Eventually, the ones in that segment of the market will fall out into other segments. Since this strategy ties a firm's growth to a specific segment, sales can suffer if new competitors appeal successfully to the same segment (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.256). Furthermore, errors in forecasting market potential or customer buying habits lead to severe problems (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.256). Because niches can weaken, the firm must continually create new ones (Kotler, 2003, p.272).

Toyota's Scion has taken that targeting strategy a step further by using micromarketing, which is "more narrowly focused than concentrated marketing" (Boone & Kurtz, 2001, p.256). Micromarketing involves targeting potential customers at a very basic level, such as by zip code, specific occupation, lifestyle, or individual household.

What elements of societal marketing can you identify in Scion's: Product, Pricing, Positioning, and Advertising? The societal marketing concept holds that the organization's task is to determine the needs, wants, and interests of target markets and to deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors, in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer's and the society's well-being (Kotler, 1994).

By targeting Gen Y, Scion has implemented the societal marketing concept through their product, pricing, positioning, and advertising. Scion is offering Gen Y a product that identifies with their generation of personalization, innovation, and technology. The price is the price. No "wheeling and dealing." Scion dresses their vehicles with many standard features that would not be standard in other automobile brands.

Their positioning with Gen Y comes through Scion's support of their culture, diversity, and lifestyle. Advertising is done through traditional means of print, television, radio, and internet, but they also makes themselves present at the "hot spots" such as night clubs, college campuses, and art shows that are geared toward Gen Y and underground cultures. It is in my opinion that Scion has effectively and efficiently delivered the desired satisfactions of their target market.

References: Boone, L., & Kurtz, D. (2001). Contemporary marketing. 10th ed. Ft. Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers. Kotler, P. (2003). Marketing management. 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Kotler, P. (1994). Marketing management: analysis, planning, implementation and control. 8th ed. Prentice-Hall, Retrieved from http://dis.shef.ac.uk/sheila/marketing/definition.htm Banks, C. (2005). Here come the bratty boomers. Retrieved June 13, 2005 from http://wdb.wardsauto.com/ Burke, M. (n.d.). Scion marketing targets Gen Y drivers. Retrieved June 13, 2005 from http://www.jounaltimes.com/articles/2004/ Crouch, A. (2005). Toyota is starting a non-profit record label. Retrieved June 15, 2005 from http://the-raw-prawn.blogspot.com/ Detroit Auto Show. (n.d.). Scion's promotion manager's presentation on their "underground"marketing. Retrieved June 15, 2005 from http://www.autoweek.com Kichen, S. (n.d.). Scion's smart moves. Retrieved June 15, 2005 from http://www.forbes.com/2004/10/12/cz_sk_1012feat_print.html