Scion Brand Seen Struggling in the Market Place

Detroit News

Ten years after Toy­ota Motor Corp. launched its youth-ori­ent­ed Scion mar­que, the brand has been strug­gling in both sales and qual­i­ty rat­ings.

Find out more about the sit­u­a­tion from Toy­ota VP Doug Murtha.

Ten years after Toy­ota Motor Corp. launched its youth-ori­ent­ed Scion mar­que, the brand is strug­gling.

Only one Scion prod­uct is doing well this year, the new FR-S sports car, and it is actu­al­ly a rebadged Sub­aru. With­out it, Scion sales would be down sharply.

But that is not the only sign of trou­ble. Scion’s cus­tomers are get­ting old­er. Toy­ota acknowl­edges that aware­ness of the brand among the teens and 20-some­things who rep­re­sent Scion’s tar­get mar­ket is not what the com­pa­ny hoped it would be by now.

And, in mid June, Scion came in dead last in the annu­al J.D. Pow­er and Asso­ciates Ini­tial Qual­i­ty Study.

“Ten years ago, Scion took off like a bat out of hell. They were the first peo­ple since Volk­swa­gen to suc­cess­ful­ly pull off youth mar­ket­ing — and they did it by nev­er say­ing the word ‘youth,’ ” said Jim Hall of 2953 Ana­lyt­ics LLP. “Their ini­tial demo­graph­ics were some­thing oth­er automak­ers would have killed their moth­ers for.”

Toy­ota Vice Pres­i­dent Doug Murtha, who was tapped to lead the Scion brand last fall, says they still are.

“We’re still a good 15 years or more below the aver­age indus­try age,” Murtha told The Detroit News. “We’re still doing what we were brought here to do. At the same time, I would like to be doing that in greater vol­umes.”

Scion sales peaked at more than 173,000 vehi­cles in 2006. Last year, they did not even hit 74,000. And that was an almost 50 per­cent increase over 2011’s tal­ly. Scion’s share of the mar­ket has also fall­en, from an even 1 per­cent in 2006 to just 0.5 per­cent last year. And that fig­ure has slipped to just 0.4 per­cent this year.

Murtha also blames the age of the Scion line­up. With the excep­tion of the hot-sell­ing FR-S and the admit­ted­ly polar­iz­ing iQ, most of its vehi­cles are des­per­ate­ly in need of a refresh.

Those are com­ing, start­ing with a reboot of once-pop­u­lar tC that is just now arriv­ing in show­rooms. Murtha believes that will help push Scion sales “clos­er to 80 (thou­sand) this year.”




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