Toyota Steers Used Cars to Youth Market

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A marketing effort for Toyota's Certified Used Vehicle division has two goals: promote its used cars to drivers in their teens to mid-20s who may be unable to afford a new car and build loyalty among those young drivers for when they're ready for bigger-ticket purchases down the road.

To achieve those goals, Toyota is handing out 40,000 interactive CD-ROMs at auto shows this month promoting its 2000 Celica and 2000 Tacoma truck. Though consumers of all ages will be able to take the CD-ROMs, Toyota expects that younger drivers will be the demographic most attracted by the interactive nature and high-quality animation of the CD-ROMs.

"They wanted to create something tangible that people could see and touch," said Trevor Carr, CEO of noisemedia, the digital entertainment company that created the CDs. "And with a CD, it allows us to give the promotion an edge that would be more appealing to a younger audience."

This marks the first online effort for the used-vehicle division and the first major effort for Toyota targeting the youth market online. Carr said Toyota hopes to attract consumers as young as 14.

"It is important to establish and create a brand impression at an early age," he said. "These people will be consumers and buying cars in the next couple of years."

To support the effort, Toyota launched a mini-site within the Toyota site this month. The CD-ROM featuring the Celica will let consumers design their own Celica as part of a "mix your own Celica" program. It will feature an animated DJ mixing board as the navigation tool with which they can select various parts and customizations.

"The parts consumers can choose from can all be provided by Toyota," Carr said. "So the car they design can be created for them."

The Tacoma CD-ROM is similar to the Celica one. The CD-ROMs will come with a small informational brochure providing information on the used-vehicle division and its Web address and links back to the Toyota site. One link in the Celica section of the CD-ROM, for example, takes consumers to the Shop@Toyota used-car page, where they enter the vehicle they're looking for, price range, mileage, their state and ZIP code.

Toyota also hopes to acquire demographic information by having people register for online updates and promotions through the CD. The carmaker has not set a specific number of names it expects to acquire through this campaign, and it would not discuss the cost of the effort.

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