Toyota And Google Bring Showroom Into The Living Room

Toyota is working with Google to reimagine the purchase path through desktops and mobile devices. The Google+ Toyota collaboration is part of a digital meets metal campaign to help consumers and dealerships make the transition.

At OMMA SXSW in Austin, Kimberley Gardiner, national marketing director at Toyota, and Kayla Green, director of digital strategy at Saatchi & Saatchi, L.A., explained how the digital tool works to make shopping more social.

Potential Corolla car buyers meet online in a Google+ hangout with up to five friends or family members. From there they can help pick features like wheels and sunroof, or colors for the exterior and the interior of the car. The digital tool brings in tools and maps to make the experience interactive.

The tool also allows consumers move to their head from side to side to get a different view of the interior, using the desktop or mobile device camera to track eye movement. Or the consumer can take a virtual test drive by picking the scenery and taking a spin in the driver's seat. For those who have questions, the tool allows the potential buyer to connect with a local dealership, providing leads.

The millennials think of products and services in a different way. "They're actually more concerned about losing their phone than their car," Gardiner said. "Not that they would want to lose their car, but this audience thinks about cars in a dramatically different way, and that's a challenge for us."

Gardiner said Toyota will launch a fuel cell vehicle in about a year. The car manufacturer will turn toward digital such as search, social and other media to educate consumers on the transition, technology and what it means for them.

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