In the contemporary business environment, companies producing cars often face a problem of the introduction of new products because of the high competition and saturation of the market in developed countries of the world. Toyota is one of the leading car manufacturers.
The company attempts to introduce new cars which could outpace their competitors technologically and meet customers’ needs and interests. In the late 1990s the company focused on the development of new type of cars that were defined as hybrid cars, which were environmentally friendly and did not produce such a harmful effect on the environment as conventional cars do. In this respect, Toyota Prius was the first hybrid car produced en mass which was created by Toyota. Basically, this was one of the major strategic advantages the new product of Toyota counted for, in order to gain the large share of its segment of the market. It should be pointed out that the development of such a car was just a part of the general process of the introduction of the new car in the market. While introducing the new model, Toyota had to take into consideration peculiarities of specific markets and possible challenges and problems the new product could encounter there. At the same time, the introduction of Toyota Prius was a result of customer-centered approach and total quality management which are successfully implemented by Toyota.
Toyota Prius is a hybrid car which, unlike the overwhelming majority of cars produced en mass, uses alternative sources of energy, namely electricity, instead of fossil fuel solely. At the same time, in spite of the use of alternative sources of energy, technical characteristics of the car remains similar to conventional cars. As a result, Toyota Prius turns out to be cost saving and environmentally friendly due to its fuel efficiency. In addition, the car is sold at affordable prices that make it available to the mass customers. The price of Toyota Prius starts at $21,815 in the USA (Farrell, 507). In such a way, the car seems to be almost a perfect product for modern customers who are constrained in their expenditures on fuel and are concerned with the environmental protection.
Basically, Toyota Prius is a really unique car because it is the mass-produced hybrid car and, naturally, having such a unique characteristic, the car should target at the gaining a larger share of the market. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that the introduction of the new car in the market will lead to the counteraction from the part of the major rivals and competitors that will make the process of entering of the market a bit problematic. Toyota attempts to create a positive public image of the car among customers that is one of the priorities for the company. At the same time, the introduction of the car is accompanied by the improvement of the existing service centers in order to make them able to work with this specific model, which is apparently different from conventional cars. In other words, the company had improved the quality of service to attain a higher level of customers’ satisfaction.
In such a way, one of the priorities of the company is the focus on the customer satisfaction, which is very important in the current situation because it produces a positive impact on the preferences of customers, the popularity of the car and brand at large. At the same time, it is possible to achieve the shift in the perception of customers of Toyota and position the company as a new brand, the brand of new types of cars, which are environmentally friendly and are available to the mass consumers. In such a way, the company should attempt to position itself as a company that takes of human environment and attempts to decrease the air pollution and negative impact of cars and traffic on the environment. Such a shift obviously implies the necessity of the change in customer’s perception of Toyota as well as of the surrounding world. To put it more precisely, Toyota attempts to make its customers conscious of the importance to protect the environment and, in this regard, Toyota Prius may be viewed as a perfect car that meets the highest environmental demands of the present epoch and, what is more, Toyota Prius may be viewed as a car of the future because of it is the unique hybrid car which uses new technologies which decrease the threat to the environment. Anyway, customers should be aware that using Toyota Prius means improving their environment or decreasing the negative impact of their cars on the environment in which they actually live.
The car is destined to the mass customers concerned with environmental protection. The high environmental standards meet the existing automobile market demand. In actuality, Toyota Prius targets at the mass customers in developed countries, mainly representatives of the middle and even lower-middle class who could afford an environmentally friendly car and, at the same time, save costs due to the low fuel consumption.
In fact, there are few competitors which can challenge the position of Toyota Prius. In this respect, it is possible to mention New Honda Civic, another hybrid car which uses alternative sources of energy. In actuality, Honda Civic is similar in technological characteristics to Toyota Prius, but it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the latter has been operating in the world market for a consistently longer period of time and customers get used to Toyota Prius as the leader among hybrid cars. Such a public image of Toyota Prius puts the car in an advantageous position compared to its competitor, New Honda Civic. On the other hand, it is impossible to underestimate the potential of the New Honda Civic because the new car meets high demands of customers. Even though the price of New Honda Civic starts at $22,400 in the USA, which is higher compared to Toyota Prius, but Civic is better equipped, while in the similar equipment, both cars have practically the same price (Farrell, 507).
On analyzing the introduction of the product, it is important to underline that Toyota focused on the promotional campaign of the new product. It is very important to prepare the market for the introduction of Toyota Prius. This means that customers should know what the new care actually is and what the basic advantages of this car are. This means that the company needed to launch a promotional campaign before the new car appeared in the market. It is very important to choose the effective medium of the promotion of the new car. In fact, the use of the large range of media may be effective, but at the same time, there is a threat of dispersing funds on the ineffective advertising in some media. What is meant here is the fact that the promotion of Toyota Prius in some sport editions is apparently unreasonable, especially taking into consideration the major target customers of this model, i.e. a person that has a family and children.
On analyzing the possible choice of effective media, it should be said that printed media are not very effective compared to the visual media.
This is why it is unnecessary to concentrate a lot of attention on the advertising of the new car, Toyota Prius in printed media, such as magazines, for instance. Instead, it is possible to focus on the advertising of Toyota Prius via television, which is considered to be a more effective medium at the present epoch (Mohrman, 120). Basically, the advertising of Toyota Prius on television could bring positive results because of the large audience that watch TV regularly and it is just necessary to choose the right time and create an effective advertisement to introduce Toyota Prius, emphasizing its positive characteristics, such as the low fuel consumption and the fact that the car is environmentally friendly. In fact, the car may be positioned in the advertising as the ideal car for people who take care of the future of their children. Apparently, this will attract customers who have a family and, since these customers are the major target group of Toyota Prius, than the success of such advertising will, to a significant extent, define the success of the entire promotional campaign. However, in recent years the popularity of another media, Internet, may be also used very effectively in the promotional campaign. According to researches of specialists (Volti, 227), customers retrieve the basic information about the car they would like to buy from Internet. As the matter of fact, they can acquire the basic information about the care, compared it with other cars belonging to the same class and, thus, make a choice in favor of the best car. In such a situation, it is very important that customers choose Toyota Prius.
Naturally, it is necessary to help them the right choice and Internet provides ample opportunities to the effective promotion of Toyota Prius and its positive characteristics. To put it more precisely, with the help of Internet it is possible to provide detailed information to customers about the technological characteristics of the car, its advantages compared to the major competitor. In the process of the promotion of the car, it is necessary to lay emphasis on the environmental characteristics of the car, its safety and reliability. In this regard, the public image of Toyota as a reliable brand may produce a positive impact on the perception of Toyota Prius as the most advanced car developed by Toyota. As it is a hybrid car, it is possible to present Toyota Prius as a totally new generation of cars, a hybrid car that can be very popular among customers.
In fact, the company attempts to present the car as the first car in the production line of Toyota which will change the perception of customers of a car. In such a way, Toyota Prius could be presented as the first car that will debunk stereotypes and change the concept of a car since the technologies used in the process of the production of this car are the technologies of the future. At the same time, the emphasis on the use of the new, advanced technologies will also make Toyota Prius interesting to those who appreciate the use of innovations in cars and prefer the most advanced technologies to other characteristics of a good car.
In such a way, it is obvious that the uniqueness of Toyota Prius as the hybrid car should be the cornerstone of the promotional campaign. It is obvious that this fact the car the strategic advantage compared to its potential competitors. However, the traditional positive qualities of the car should also be mentioned and customers should be aware of the fact that they do not buy an environmentally car but they also acquire a very comfortable, spacious (for its class) car. In the current market situation, it is also important to provide customer with a large choice of the possible equipment that could be installed in the car. Basically, it is one of the decisive factors that influence customers’ choice because the lack of some equipment or, what is more, the impossibility of its installation may change the decision of a customer. In such a situation, the company has a large experience and is able to provide a large choice to its customer in order to provide all possible equipment that can be optionally installed in Toyota Prius to meet the demands and interests of customers.
Along with the promotion of the car, Toyota attempted to make it really available to the mass consumers. This means that it is necessary to provide the stable supply of cars to all part of the three countries to provide all people, who want to buy Toyota Prius, with this car. In this respect, Toyota uses the existing network of the company. As for the strategy of the distribution, it should be said that the company uses its network distribution because this car is positioned as the unique car and the only hybrid car that is available to the mass consumers. In such a situation, it would be simply illogical to promote Toyota Prius as the car for mass consumers and limit its distribution to specific regions.
However, it is obvious that the demand on the car is different in different parts of the world. For instance, the sales rates in developed countries are consistently higher compared to developing countries. Consequently, it is necessary to use the existing network of Toyota to distribute Toyota Prius.
Finally, it is important to develop the customer experience through the communication between distributor and customers. To put it more precisely, distributors should amply inform customers about the potential of the car and position it as an image builder of Toyota, i.e. as the most advanced and the most perspective car developed by Toyota. In this regard, it should be said that due to the use of innovative technologies that made the car environmentally friendly and the low level of the fuel consumption makes the car really attracting to customers and these technologies may be used in other models of Toyota.
Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that Toyota Prius is a very successful product of Toyota, which gained a huge popularity, especially in developed countries of the world. Today, the car is an alternative to conventional cars, while the competition in the segment of hybrid cars is still relatively low that allows the company to maintain the leading position in this segment of the market. At the same time, the use of effective of total quality management and customer-centered strategies and primarily focus on the promotional campaign, which informs customers about the basic advantages of the car and position Toyota Prius, as the unique and very perspective car. After that it is necessary to distribute the car and maintain the interest of customers to the product.