The Toyota-owned luxury brand introduced the first of a new wave of more aggressively styled cars in 2012 with the fourth-generation GS sedan (below).
The new design strategy – which centres around a large ‘spindle’ grille up front – has been rolled out across virtually its entire model range and is having a positive effect, says Lexus.
“Brand entrenchment, which we use for our own measurement, went up in 2013 for first time in many years,” Lexus Australia boss Sean Hanley told CarAdvice at the recent international launch of the company’s new NX SUV (main image). “We put that down to the new models and spindle grille design.
“In market research metrics in the past, quality, reliability, durability … all of those things were in top 10. Styling, emotional connection [with the brand] were down but design and emotional attachment are now moving up the list.”
Hanley admitted there was “a bit of shock, bit of hesitation with the design cue” when the GS launched, but says two years on the company isn’t surprised the boldest-looking models of each passenger and SUV line – the F Sport trim grade – have the heaviest mix in sales.
The Lexus F-Sport models are not only attracting a younger buyer demographic, typically aged between 35 and 47, but also attracting a larger mix of female buyers.
“This tells us consumers have warmed to that look and feel, but it’s a more important strategy for the long term,” said Hanley. “It’s not just about Lexus today, it’s about tomorrow as well.
“What we really needed as a brand was our own unique look, feel and design, so that when the next generation of car buyers comes through the ranks and they look through rear view mirror and see that spindle grille, they know it’s a Lexus.”
Lexus is growing its sales in Australia, though currently not as quickly as its German rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The company says it is targeting sustainable growth rather than worrying about its position in relation to its traditional competitors.
The Lexus NX SUV arrives in October.