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Scion vs. The Untouchable Automotive Giants
By: Corinne MacInnes
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Since its foundation in 2002, Scion has been doing everything in its power to engineer a line of economy cars marketable to the youth of the Western world — from Millennials to the youngest set of buyers within Generation Z. Scion is a division of Toyota, but the brand has become a name in itself by promoting concepts in keeping with the ideals of the young buyers in the automotive industry.

At the Detroit 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Scion showed minor changes with their already-established line of economy models, including the C-HR concept car (debuted at the 2015 Auto Show). All are models designed to attract “young urban creatives” with design and specs alone, but what significantly boosted the magnetism of today’s youth to Scion’s NAIAS booth was a fresh approach to showcasing their image and informing their audience.

While the classics and power-beauty car companies showing at NAIAS were presenting their prize cars on the traditional spinning stage, draped with gorgeous women in tightly fitting dresses, Scion was drawing in their targets with a fleet of young, well-informed guides, armed with tablets and hip, gender-neutral uniforms. From their Adidas sneakers to their relaxed interactions with each other, everything about Scion’s stage hosts screamed approachability.

Scion has long been known to bring some fun to the Detroit Auto Show. While other car companies are taking themselves very seriously, Scion pops up with funky fresh ideas like painted and customized cars in 2011, the “Thunderdome" experience in 2012, and the Scion Swag Machine in 2014. These exhibition gimmicks and Scion’s youth-oriented automotive engineering play directly into the generational rise of social media saturation and the social-awareness culture of today. 

However, beyond these well-targeted marketing and product designs, Scion is changing the system of auto show exposé one year at a time.

Despite their sleekness, elitism, and an image of old-world glamour combined with modern advancements in engineering technology, companies like Mercedes, Aston Martin, Porsche, and Ferrari remain cold to the newest customers entering the market. Scion is warm and welcoming and gives their buyers the guidance and confidence they need to choose their ideal vehicle, while the rest of the automotive giants remain aloof and intimidating to most buyers. It’s not just the prices that are throwing the younger crowd off — you can buy a gently used 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe for around the same price as a 2016 Scion FR-S

The real difference lies in the aforementioned image of Scion against the image of the revamped heavyweights of the industry.

While the heavyweights stick stubbornly to their ideals, forcing their customers to appreciate and contend with what is placed before them, Scion is simply unassuming, adaptable, and conscious of what their audience wants, needs, and can have. To those still romanticizing the glory of automotive history, Scion’s approach may seem childish — an easy way to cover up the flaws of their less expensive cars — but from a market standpoint, Scion is carrying its own weight and a brand image that is increasingly powerful through its flexibility over others’ brute strength.


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About the Author

Corinne MacInnes grew up in Albion, MI. She attended Kalamazoo College and graduated in 2015 with a B.F.A. and concentrations in Spanish, English, and Art History under her belt. Today she works from Chicago doing freelance writing, creative writing, and event planning

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