If you visit the Lexus Intersect facility in Tokyo's fashionable Aoyama district, you won't find any cars there. Nor will you find any salesmen or service personnel.
Instead, you'll find a stylish building furnished like a cross between a museum and a trendy coffee house. Book shelves, objects d'art, and various bits of automotive bric-a-brac adorn the interior and the whole facility encourages visitors to linger.
It's all part of Toyota's drive to re-establish its luxury Lexus brand. Intersect is one part of their overall strategy to expand the brand and highlight the "emotional" component of owning one of their vehicles.
"The customer base of automobiles is changing," explains Tokuo Fukuichi, Lexus' international executive vice-president. "Intersect is not a place where we sell automobiles, but rather a place where customers can feel and touch the Lexus experience. We want to show customers that owning a Lexus is more than just owning a car. It's a lifestyle choice."
Intersect has an intimate, library-style snug upstairs, with a trendy bistro-lounge downstairs. You feel as if you're visiting the home of a friend – an obviously wealthy one. The presence of anything automotive is subtle and non-confrontational.
"Intersect is also a kind of gathering place," adds Mark Templin, Lexus North America executive vice-president. "It's an opportunity for us to get people from all over the world to take part in design opportunities…you don't have to go into a dealership to get into one of our products."
Other manufacturers have proffered similar strategies to attract buyers and sell the lifestyle. BMW, Mercedes, and even Morgan have used similar tactics, with varying degrees of success. Not to mention the granddaddy of all lifestyle purveyors, Harley-Davidson. But usually, you can count on there being some product around the place.
No cars here.
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