Will your ad spending be up or down in 2001 compared with 2000? By what percentage?
Our ad spending will be up significantly because we are launching a number of new products. The launch of any product requires sustainable advertising.
What media mix do you expect for 2001? How does that compare with 2000?
Traditionally, our media mix runs approximately 75 percent to 80 percent TV, with print advertising accounting for the balance. We expect that mix to remain the same for 2001. Introductions have no impact on the media mix.
Is the Internet still a good marketing tool for you? How will you use it in 2001?
Yes, it's a good marketing tool. It's a great way to communicate with consumers and a great venue to collect consumer information. In the case of our Toyota Prius, the Internet allows us to market a niche product with a niche marketing approach. Prius is being marketed exclusively on the Internet. The only other Prius advertising is in corporate image ads to demonstrate our environmental objectives. The results have been outstanding. We have sold all Prius production through March, and demand is continuing to increase.
How do you expect rebates and incentives to affect your marketing budget in 2001?
We don't do rebates. Some local regions use discretionary funds for incentives. We'll spend modestly in that area.
What is the biggest product launch you have coming up for 2001? When will it be?
On the Lexus side, we are beginning the launch of our flagship, the LS 430. It's our biggest marketing message for this year and will be followed by the launch of the SC 430 Coupe next spring. On the Toyota side, we are calling this 'The Year of the SUV.' There will be a new RAV4 for 2001, along with a vehicle we are calling the Sequoia Highlander, as well as a four-door, double cab Tacoma pickup truck.
What is your major marketing challenge for 2001?
With all of these new products, we are expanding our offering and moving into all major segments, except large vans. We'll have to balance the introduction of new vehicles with sustaining current models. We have our work cut out for us to sustain interest for both new and current products.
Vehicle sales are expected to be off by 1 million units for 2001. That makes the automotive industry still a good industry but more competitive. An onslaught on new products will give us an opportunity to gain market share.