Toyota quietly began an unusual virtual promotion of its small, boxy Scion: it paid for the car’s product placement in Whyville.net, an online interactive community populated almost entirely by 8- to 15-year-olds. The power of younger consumers has grown stronger in recent years. According to research from Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com in Rockville, Md., 39 percent of parents of 10- and 11-year-olds say their children have a significant impact on brand purchases. Both boys and girls age 9 to 11 say they spend without thinking, and 9-to-11-year-olds account for 53 percent of total buying power among children 3 to 11.
Toyota is counting on Whyvillians to do two things — influence their parents’ car purchases and maybe grow up with some Toyota brand loyalty.
The company has employed nontraditional advertising strategies. For example, it sponsors monthly nightclub events and sells Scion-themed gear on its Web site, including D.J. bags ($55) and snowboard jackets ($180).
One of the goals in introducing the Scion was to cultivate an un-Toyota audience.
thro’ NY Times