Scion is a marque of vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Corporation for the North American market. Founded in 2002, Scion's long-term goal is to appeal to Generation Y consumers. The first Scion models, the xA hatchback and xB wagon, went on sale in California in 2003, followed by a sports coupe, the tC, and a nationwide U.S. launch in 2004. A successor to the xA, the xD, premiered in 2008, and the Scion marque expanded to Canada in 2010. The Scion lineup uses a one-trim, simplified purchase process, and the marque has relied upon guerrilla and viral marketing techniques. The Scion name, meaning the descendant of a family or heir, refers both to the marque's cars and their owners.
In 1999, Toyota launched Project Genesis, an effort to bring younger buyers to the Toyota marque in the United States. This project aimed to create a "marque within a marque" in sales and advertising strategy for compact and coupe models sold by Toyota. The effort, which included the introduction of the Toyota Echo economy car, along with late generation Toyota MR-2 and Toyota Celica models, was judged unsuccessful and cancelled in 2001. In response, Toyota chose to launch a separate marque, an effort called Project Exodus. A Los Angeles based digital design company, Fresh Machine (led by Wyndham Chow and Richard Bolton), was retained by Toyota to develop the brand, logo and launch website. This project became known as Scion.
Scion was first introduced in March 2002, at the New York Auto Show. There were just two concept vehicles, the bbX (which became the xB), and the ccX (which became the tC). The 2004 xA and xB were unveiled at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show on January 2, 2003. They were available only in 105 Toyota dealerships in California at their initial launch on June 6, 2003. The subsequent rollout of the brand to the South, the Southeast, and the East Coast occurred in February 2004. Scion vehicles were available nationwide in June 2004, coinciding with the release of the 2005 tC. On December 16, 2006, Scion unveiled the next-generation xB, based on the t2B concept, and the new xD, successor of the xA, at an invitation-only, no-camera event in Miami. Both cars were then publicly unveiled on February 8, 2007 at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show.
Scion stems from Toyota's well publicized use of "Value Innovation", a series of articles in Harvard Business Review later encapsulated in the book Blue Ocean Strategy. Key factors of Toyota's strategy canvas were never published but include "Price," "Factor Options," "Performance driving metrics," "Confidence in buying," "21st Century Radio."
Toyota Canada Inc. announced that the Scion brand will be available in September 2010 at 45 selected dealers starting in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, followed by other cities. Launch models include tC, xD, xB. The Toyota iQ shown in Tokyo will be sold in Canada as a Scion model, starting in 2011 as a 2012 model. The first new Scions were shown in Canada at the 2009 Montreal International Auto Show.
Scion uses sales tools such as "Pure Price" and monospec trim levels with a wide selection of factory and TRD accessories. Extensive market research and testing with Generation Y consumers formed the basis of the Scion badge.
"Pure Price" means that the price posted, whether on the vehicle, in an advertisement, or on a menu display board in the dealership, is the price customers will pay. This includes vehicles, accessories, finance and insurance products. Pure Price is designed to ensure a shorter and simpler process, eliminating all negotiation. The concept aims to be open and consistent to all customers. The concept is not new to the American market, having been introduced in the early 1990s by the Geo and Saturn marques of General Motors.
Scion's sales approach thus differs greatly from that of the larger Toyota entity. In the United States, for instance, the Toyota Camry offers several trim levels: the Camry grade CE "Classic Edition" (for budget-conscious drivers), LE "Luxury Edition" (popularly equipped), SE "Special Edition" (for sporty drivers), and XLE "Extra Luxury Edition" (for luxury-minded drivers). In contrast, all Scions have one standard trim level (monospec) and are designed to be uniquely customized for the driver.
Scion offers about 150 different accessories; other after-market companies through the Optimize Scion program offer to add other accessories, as well. For example, one can add a subwoofer as well as different types of decals. The tC had offered an optional supercharger to increase power from 161 to 200 hp (120 to 150 kW), but this option was since discontinued in 2007. All accessories are sold individually, and do not require special packages. However, some options, such as Ground Effects, do prevent other accessories (such as mud flaps) from being installed.
Companies that participate in the Optimize Scion program include GReddy, OBX, RÄZO, a few car detailing companies, and others.
Beginning in the second quarter of 2004 with the launch of the 2004 Scion xB RS 1.0 (Release Series 1.0), followed by the Scion xA RS 1.0, Scion decided to create limited edition vehicles pre-packaged with exclusive accessories in limited quantities. Limited Edition vehicles from a marketing standpoint were used to create a buzz for the brand name, with their exterior colors tending to be loud or bright hues (e.g. orange, yellow, red, blue, green). Because of the growing popularity of the Scion product line and the scarce production runs (most dealers only get 2-3 of each RS model), these limited edition vehicles quickly sold out. Pre-ordering is available at each dealership on a first-come, first-served basis. To the customer's benefit, Scion's "Pure Price" MSRP bounds dealerships against market-demand vehicle mark-up. Naturally, resale values of Release Series vehicles command a premium because of their packaged options and scarcity.
To advertise Scion, Toyota began a new campaign for the Scion using a form of guerrilla marketing, using posters and ads in movie theaters and TV to direct consumers to the sites, want2bsquare.org, want2bsquare.tv, and want2bsquare.info. Scion's marketing endeavors extended to sponsorships, such as that of VBS.tv's show, Thumbs Up!, which features David Choe hitchhiking across the United States. Scion sponsored two commercials featuring Concours race car driver Matt Verbin during the Castle Hill Concours d'Elegance, which show him racing a custom painted yellow and orange xB on Cambridge streets. Scion also teamed with Gaia Online, providing the xB,xD, and tC as a choice for user cars, as well as other things across the site.
Scion also uses smaller, regional viral campaigns to reach niche demographics. Online campaigns like http://www.scionxpressionism.com allow the user to modify and design his own Scion with graphics, decals, and aftermarket car parts. Online advertising, much of it quirky and offbeat, is part of Scion's marketing mix for both these campaigns and for the launch of new models. Scion is also currently running its own viral-marketing website Scion bB, to promote other artists and events that it sponsors. Shows like Slick's Picks go around the country interviewing artists, stores, and events; and puts short videos on the site. Scion Radio 17 is an internet-radio initiative that features 17 non-mainstream channels, ranging from rock and hip hop to electro and soul.
In August 2008, Scion released its newest ad campaign, "United by Individuality", featuring over 300 Scion owners' vehicles in various magazine articles, commercials, and billboards. The latest commercial video shows a convoy of Scions parading through the desert in Boulder City, Nevada. These videos and ads can be seen on Scion's website at scion.com/scionunited.