Weird, right? A Marketer’s Take On The Rise And Fall Of Scion

Toyota announced on Wednesday 2/3 that Scion, a sub brand of Toyota, will stop producing cars under the Scion brand. Starting in August 2016, the Scion logo will come down. For some of Scion’s models, a Toyota logo will go up in its place. Scion’s marketing was on point, but it couldn’t compete with not only an aging target audience, but a changing one.

The Rise

Scion was established in 2003 to attract the younger crowd. It worked for those Generation Xers who wanted an affordable, fuel efficient car, but were not ready to buy from the “soccer-mom” brand, Toyota. Scion sold 173,034 models at its peak in 2006, when a big part of Generation X was 20-something years old. The company used catchy marketing images and slogans like “want2Bsquare.” Remember that boxy-looking xB? Those just coming out of college thought they’d look great cruising around in that thing.

Scion xB


Is that a small kitchen appliance? Nope, its the 2006 Scion xB!

The Fall

Suddenly that Che-Guevara-t-shirt-wearing dude was setting aside his Aviators, rocking a pressed button-down shirt, and lugging around diapers and baby formula. That tC just wasn’t suitable for a family. According to Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz, “customers have changed, and we need to change with them.” From 2008 to 2009, the number of Scion models sold dropped almost in half.

Scion iA


Starting at $17,595 the 2016 Scion iA has great gas mileage, but are Millennials looking for affordability and efficiency?

The Take Away – A Marketing Standpoint

In early 2015, I started seeing Scion’s new tagline: “Weird, right?” I thought it was a nice differentiation from standard automobile taglines such as (Chevrolet) “Find New Roads,” (Ford) “Go Further,” and (Nissan) “Innovation That Excites.” And it somehow spoke to Millennials. Since Generation X was no longer interested in the Scion brand, Millennials became the new target. But Scion was still the same brand that was created to target Generation X, touting low prices and good fuel economy.

Maybe it is due to the recent drop in oil prices or the number of competitors that also boast a low price tag and high MPG. It could even be the emergence of the sharing economy, or a marketing message that no longer resonates with the 20-something crowd. Whatever it is, Millennials are not the same as Generation X, and Scion did not change its marketing tactics to accommodate for this shift. But the Scion models will be rebadged with the Toyota logo, which just might appeal to those people who grew out of the Scion brand.