Lexus’ latest marketing campaign, a sexy one, has helped Toyota’s premium unit to exceed its total GS series US sales for the full year of 2011 in just two months in 2012. Lexus has exploited the beauty and glamour of Sports Illustrated model Tori Praver for a publicity stunt in February, which resulted in the sales of more than 4,900 GS cars in the US.
The publicity stunt includes giving away a Tori 500 app for the iPhone and iPad to customers buying the cars. The stunt was also part of Lexus’ plan to distinguish itself as a separate brand from Toyota; as consumers have, for many years, perceived the brand as just an upgraded version of the Japanese carmaker.
With this in mind, Lexus aims to attract owners who for years have preferred BMW and Mercedes-Benz, according to Kiyotaka Ise, Lexus’ managing director, adding that the company wanted consumers to choose the brand for its character and handling.
Lexus’ approach comes not as a surprise since Toyota in recent years has decentralized its operations and decision-making to its autonomous units. Lexus’ performance will serve a benchmark for Toyota’s future success, as the company’s sales growth was hampered in 2011 by supply problems due to natural disasters, slow launching of new models and the stronger yen.
As early as last year, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said that Lexus should show the way of how Toyota Motor Corp. should operate. For four years now, Lexus have been distinguishing itself from Toyota. Inside Toyota’s headquarters, Lexus’ engineers, designers, and teams work independently from Toyota’s own workforce. According to Takashi Aoki, a senior fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co., what Lexus had been missing was a centralized brand image.