Lexus Turns Toward Ultra-Luxury Buyer

Lexus, Toyota's posh nameplate, is undergoing a makeover intended to transform it from a respectable-but-boring brand into one associated with the biggest names in luxury, like Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci.

Known for its ultra-conservative culture, Lexus is introducing a slew of new vehicles costing more than $70,000--nearly twice the price of its best-selling RX SUV. It deployed a "super affluent team," a group that traveled the country asking the ultra-rich what they want. It is throwing lavish parties around the country, and cozying up with brands like Vogue and Neiman Marcus stores.

Lexus's somewhat nerdy image dates back to its beginnings in 1989. While Mercedes and BMW threw lavish parties to herald the launch of a new model, Lexus's dealers offered free wine and cheese. History shows it can be very difficult to change consumer perceptions of a car brand. And luxury buyers, usually older, could be even more stubborn, as they are often highly loyal to the cars they've previously owned.

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