Toyota rethinking Toyotathon, Lexus December to Remember

Gilleland said the luxury brand will alter its marketing spend and its message somewhat, focusing on the redesigned Lexus NX instead of selling off outgoing model-year vehicles. “The message will still have that look and feel, but certainly I think we’d be irresponsible to go out and spend at the same level as if we had a 30-day supply and a 17 million” seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate.

While Toyotathon may not have the same cultural cachet as Lexus’ big red bows, it is still an important event for dealers, Toyota Division head Dave Christ said.

He said last week that a final “go/no-go” decision on the promotion is still being debated internally, and with the launch of the redesigned Tundra coming at the end of the year, it’s important to boost traffic in showrooms.

“Toyotathon is an important part of our history, and the dealers still have cars to sell, even if it’s a lower number of them, so we want to support them with advertising,” Christ said.

“That decision is going to get made when we’re a little closer — we have a little better view of what the production and inventory environment looks like.”

Christ noted that Toyota still held its annual August sales event — which took place largely before the company launched its most severe production cuts — and modified its messaging somewhat. He said dealers have “done a good job communicating” the reasons for reduced inventory to customers, so complaints have been few.

Lisa Materazzo, who heads marketing for the Toyota Division, said Toyotathon “is still a good opportunity for the brand, with or without inventory, to keep Toyota top of mind.”

“It’s a chance to engage with the customer,” one the brand is not willing to surrender just because inventory is low, Materazzo said. “If we don’t have the inventory, and they’re willing to wait, we can ultimately meet the customer’s needs within a short period of time — we can take the order, lock in the specs, get the process going.”

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