Lexus Electrified: Plugging In to Diversified Needs and Younger Demos

Lexus launched its first hybrid vehicle in 2005, and ever since the brand has sought to lead the way in electrified luxury vehicles. The latest initiative is called Lexus Electrified, and it launches with a high concept campaign called Like Attracts Like, which highlights the human-powered nature even of electrified vehicles. As Vinay Shahani, VP of Marketing for Lexus explains, the automaker is trying to move EVs and hybrids into the traditional mainstream by presenting a diversified fleet that targets different customer needs and identities. But Lexus is also becoming more far-sighted, in priming the younger demos in everything from gaming to Marvel movie integrations to have the Lexus brand top of my when they are ready for the luxury category. You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.



MediaPost: So obviously, all automakers now have electric fleets of some sort. Why is Lexus launching this Lexus Electrified now?

Vinay Shahani: Knowing that one size fits all doesn't necessarily work for our guests, we felt like putting the spotlight on the fact that at Lexus we have a diversified portfolio of electrification that will meet your needs. Whether that's a hybrid electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, where you would have, let's say, 35 to 40 miles of all electric range plus the safety net of an efficient gas engine or, like we have with the all new RZ 450e, an all-electric battery, electric vehicle. And that for me is really the foundation for the campaign to really tell that story that Lexus has multiple ways to help solve your needs.

MP: Lexus has always been characterized as a luxury higher priced brand that fits the more established and older consumer. And I've noticed there are a number of moves that the brand's been making recently, in particular, we reported on golf partnerships with younger golfers that seem to be aiming for a younger demo. Talk a little bit about the changing demo of the Lexus customer, where it's been and where you're seeing some opportunities.

Shahani: I would start by saying, we have historically done a really nice job of engaging and bringing baby boomers and Gen X-ers into the Lexus family. It doesn't take a rocket scientist in a marketing leadership position to realize that in a few short years Gen Y will be the biggest consumer of luxury vehicles here in the United States. 

When I came into this job in 2021 in January, that was one of the things that I looked at from a data perspective to say, we need to source more of our business from younger consumers than ever before.

Now, you have to do that in a credible way, and the foundation for our ability to connect with these consumers is the product. Do you have a product that's going to resonate with them? The younger the consumer is in the luxury space, the more focus and emphasis they put on infotainment, because they're all walking around with one of these iPhones or android-powered phones in their pockets, and they want to be able to seamlessly integrate. Those are some clues that we need to do a better job of engaging these audiences. We've done a pretty good job over the last couple of years of transforming and evolving. Golf is a great example. We love golf. We've historically been a big sponsor of golf through our sponsorships. We've been partners with the USGA. However, we also know that we need to modernize those partnerships. We know that we need to play a stronger role through social media, through the different platforms, whether it's Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or our newest platform on which we've just started recently, which is Threads.

We want to go where the fish are biting, so to speak. And our media spend on digital media is at an all-time high. Broadcast television as a percentage of our overall media spend is down to the lowest I've ever seen it. Broadcast has the ability to deliver scale for awareness, particularly on a new model launch. So that's always going to be part of the repertoire, but we have the flexibility to target these younger audiences and interest through social platforms that, frankly, didn't exist 15 years ago. And we've also leaned in on high leverage culture, leading content platforms to create a diverse range of content that's really going to spark our audience's interest. Examples of that could be, streaming on Twitch, our partnerships with 100 Thieves, which is a lifestyle and gaming organization. We're the official automotive sponsor of 100 Thieves. There are 212 million gamers in the United States, and a lot of people have this misconception that these gamers are 20-year-olds living their parents’ basement. That's not the case. The average age of these gamers is 35 years old. They have dispensable income. They're going to become the biggest consumers of these vehicles in the future.

MP: You’ve seen these [media] plans evolve. When you are launching a strategy like this, both an overall big brand like Lexus Electrified but then also specific spots, what are you thinking and what does that plan look like? Where do you go first with a message like this?

Shahani: It's a really great point. The good news is, while broadcast TV, as an example, has come down in terms of overall mix, the good news is, we have so many other channels to reach consumers. Whether it's the social media platforms that I mentioned before, streaming platforms like Twitch, partnerships with brands like 100 Thieves. But also, you probably noticed in the last couple of years, we've been more intentional with branded integrations. So as an example, leveraging Peacock, which is NBC's streaming platform to feature the all new NX in the remake of what was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back in my day, which is now called Bel-Air, the number one show on Peacock, where the key members of the family of the of the actors are driving Lexus products. Another great example was when the RZ 450e battery electric vehicle was being launched, we partnered with Marvel Studios for the second time with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Wakanda is very future forward, very tech forward and associating that imagery with the RZ 450e tells the right message for where we're going as a brand. 

MP: Let me press the plan a little bit more. Where does most of the money go right now?

Shahani: I mean, the majority of budget is going to digital between search, between display ads, we're looking at, new ways of engaging consumers through paid social media. These are the big buckets for us today that were smaller just a few years ago. Again, we're not going to walk away from broadcast. We have really great relationships with broadcast media partners, but on a percentage of our spend basis, those are down. Because again, we're following where consumers are going, and consumers are doing more on digital, more on streaming, and therefore that has to be where we put the dollars.

MP: What's your biggest frustration in this media plan? It's obviously more fragmented, it obviously takes a lot more consideration and work, measurements got to be a hassle, attributions got to be a nightmare. What are the biggest frustrations with this right now, what are the things you really need to solve for?

Shahani: Ultimately goes back to that old adage, which 50% of your marketing is actually driving success. We're getting better and better at measuring outcomes. But you're right, measurement is one of the key challenges, and really looking holistically at measurement where you're connecting the dots between what's happening on broadcast and what's happening on digital where it's arguably a lot easier to measure. One of the recent examples that has been a positive for us is a company like EDO. EDO started out in the entertainment space but one of the things that they help us do is whenever something runs in broadcast, we can immediately see what's happening from a search interest perspective. So you're creating that connection between online and offline that we never used to have before that, at least gives a marketer an indication, well, when this ran, we saw a bump in interest, and we understand what the baseline is, what the normal level of search interest is for the brand or for the name plates that comprise the brand. Well, now, we can see, okay, when that ran, we definitively saw a bump for people that were searching for the Lexus RX or the Lexus RZ 450e. And it's another way for us to say, okay, this is working. But again, to your point, the frustration is, you don't want to have 10 different vendors that are doing this for you. Ultimately, you need to combine it. And for that reason, we've started our own analytics team within the company.

We don't necessarily want to rely only on third parties. We want to amass it into our own internal database that allows us to look at the data and say, okay, this worked, and this didn't. And that, fortunately was a group that was started when I was on the Toyota side, and now that I'm on the Lexus side. Of course, I was very keen on bringing them to support us on the Lexus side, and in many cases, when we subscribe to some of these services, we're going to first ask for our ability to onboard that data into our own servers in our own cloud. So that we can ultimately look at it, slice it, dice it in the right way, and then make better decisions for the future. 

Next story loading loading..