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Dented interests: Lexus shows its sportier side to the Middle East but is it just ‘too old’ of a brand?
Amid increasing aftersales offers in the Middle East, Precious de Leon wonders if lagging Lexus sales is because of 'old people' syndrome and not because of affected production in Japan.
July 10, 2011 2:14 by Precious de Leon
After 11 years on top, Lexus is expected to lose its place as the no.1 luxury car brand in the US, the car brand’s biggest market, according to an article in Gulf News.
But it seems the US division of Toyota’s luxury brand doesn’t really care that much. This is only proven by the following quote from Lexus Division GM Mark Templin, “Whether we’re No. 1 or not, I don’t care. We’ve never focused on that. We won’t change our plan midyear because someone else is selling more cars than us.”
Wonder what Templin’s boss has to say about that…
Anyway, figures are expected to fall by about 17 percent to just around 190,000 units in 2011. This followed the brand’s bottoming out in June when US sales fell to a disastrous 38 percent.
The company is attributing this loss to the production delays brought on b y the earthquake in Japan. (According to the GN article all Lexus models are manufactured in Japan, except for its RX350 crossover.)
WHAT’S THE REAL REASON FOR THE SALES LOSS?
If it really is the unavoidable natural disaster that is the reason behind Lexus’ lag, then it can’t be helped. But is it really?
There seems to be an indication that Lexus sales loss has been due to the brand’s ageing reputation rather than a tragic natural disaster. Much like the way Volvo had to evolve from ‘safe mom car’ to ‘trendy car’ with its C30 model, some analysts are saying the Lexus brand perception is becoming synonymous with the silver (and on the way there) generation.
Here’s hoping that the newer, sportier Lexus models (IS and CT Hybrid)–along with snappier ad campaigns–would do the trick.
GOING FOR GOLD IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Over in the Middle East, Lexus is ramping up its after sales customer care with its latest scheme, done in collaboration with Vox Cinemas. Through Al Futtaim Motors, the brand is giving away Gold Class movie tickets to Lexus owners every Saturday.
The press was treated to the experience this weekend, including your very own Kipp, of course. And here’s the lowdown: the headrest on the lazyboy seats and the blankets provided inside the theatre were branded with the Lexus logo.
Before the movie started, Lexus ads (for the CT Hybrid and IS models) were shown. In addition, the movie was Horrible Bosses, which prominently featured the Toyota Prius.
The movies, going forward, will be dictated by Lexus and Kipp would imagine these movies would have Toyota and Lexus product placements or otherwise any movie that is automotive-related. As long as these movies that aren’t in the same category as the mind-numbing Death Race, they’ll in the clear.
This isn’t the first time that brands have given free or discounted tickets to its loyal customers, though (and consequently taking advantage of branding the theatre). From what Kipp can remember these were mostly banks like Standard Chartered and HSBC. These bank-cinema associations made sense since it encourages customers to use their cards as method of payment. Kipp’s verdict is still out though on whether this Lexus Saturday Movie promo will bring real added value to its loyal customers.