Toyota Ends Scion Brand — Why Did The Japanese Automaker Kill The Millennial/Hipster Brand?

Toyota has decided to end the Scion brand. The Japanese automaker indicated that the brand’s target audience, the millennial or hipster generation, hadn’t been as appreciative as hoped.

The Japanese car maker has decided to retire the brand, under which the company launched some quirky looking cars that were clearly aimed at the young adults who were born in the 21st century and according to the company, would have truly appreciated the unorthodox approach to car design. However, according to Toyota’s own admission, the young generation still appreciates the parent brand and the values it brings to the table. Interestingly, the company clearly stated that the millennial generation turned out to be a lot more practical than imagined.

Toyota will drop the Scion brand, which was launched about three years into the new millennium. From the very beginning, the brand was aimed at American millennials and hipsters. However, mere 13 years into existence, the brand is being retired, primarily due to poor sales and abysmal response. The world’s largest automaker said it will stop selling cars under the Scion name by summer, reported Yahoo!.

What will happen to the cars that were being sold under the Scion brand? Toyota added that all the cars will be merged back into the parent brand. Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota Motor North America, shared that the company’s decision to kill the Scion brand was spurred by the rapidly shifting market and customer preference about small cars. He added that young Americans didn’t have wildly differing tastes or expectations from Toyota as compared to the older generation.

“Today younger buyers still want fun-to-drive vehicles that look good, but they are also more practical. They, like their parents, have come to appreciate the Toyota brand and its traditional attributes of quality, dependability and reliability.”

Though Toyota is killing the Scion brand, the company refuses to admit that it was a failure, reported WUFT. Instead, the company is pitching the Scion as a success story.

“Scion achieved its goals of developing unique products and processes, and bringing in new, younger customers to Toyota. With more than a million cars sold, 70% of Scions were purchased by customers new to Toyota and 50% were under 35 years old.

“This isn’t a step backward for Scion; it’s a leap forward for Toyota. Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network.”

The youth market has undoubtedly undergone some very fundamental changes. When the Scion brand was conceptualized way back in 2003, the so-called Generation X buyers were seemingly quite desirous about distancing themselves from the elders, reported CNN. They were thought to be very eager to create a unique identity that reflected through the cars they drove. These vehicles would stand out among other mundane modes of transportation, which they thought lacked creativity and that “X” factor.

However, times have changed. Millennial buyers, who were the core target of the Scion brand, have fundamentally altered their perceptions and expectations from the vehicles they wish to procure and drive. Instead of a desire to stand out, young buyers seem more inclined to go after reliability and trust that’s virtually assured from brands like Toyota. Scion on the other hand didn’t inspire the same trust that its Japanese parent brand commanded.

More than a quarter of new customers of Toyota are millennials. However, the brand wasn’t doing well for the past few years. In fact, only 56,000 units of the cars under the Scion brand were sold by Toyota in 2015. The number was three percent lower than the previous year. It is evident that the car market is surging from the fact that Toyota managed to sell 363,000 Corollas, its entry-level sedan, in the United States last year.

[Photo by Mark Ralston/Getty Images]