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Shoppers looking for small, city-friendly vehicles used to have just a handful of choices, like the MINI Cooper, the Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf, and the Scion lineup. Now that cars are shrinking and competition is stiffening in the compact and subcompact segments, Scion is upping its game to hold the attention of Gen-Y and Gen-Z consumers -- and it's relying on tried-and-true lifestyle marketing to do so.
"Lifestyle marketing" can be an ambiguous term, but at heart, it means glossing over product details and focusing instead on the lives that owners lead. (Think of ads that show beer drinkers getting down at awesome parties instead of those that brag about the beer's robust, low-cal taste, and you've got the idea.) Sometimes the lifestyle approach works well, as in the case of last year's Frisbee-centric Jeep ad. Honda's marketing for the 2010 Honda Insight? Maybe not so much.
Scion owes much of its success to strong branding campaigns and lifestyle marketing. Since launching in the U.S. in 2002, Scion has centered on city-dwelling individualists, and it's played on that sense of individualism by giving owners the tools to customize their rides down to the tiniest details.
Continuing in that vein, Scion recently launched ScionAV -- a magazine-style site featuring articles on music, art, film, and general lifestyle topics. Of course, Scion vehicles figure into a number of pieces, but there's plenty of non-car-related material, too. A quick skim of the site reveals features for gearheads, newbies, and most folks in-between.
Scion's walking a tough line here -- the line between cool and commercial. Too far in the cool direction, and the car pitch gets lost. Go too commercial, and the cool kids get turned off. Scion's lifestyle, events and promotions manager Jeri Yoshizu has an interesting interview in Marketing Daily in which she discusses the tension between the two. On the whole, it looks as if ScionAV pulls off the balancing act pretty well -- even if some of the features feel like Saturday Night Life parodies of terrible hipster culture. But then, we suppose that comes with the territory.