As Marvel Studios' upcoming Black Panther makes its way to theaters next month, Lexus will tag along in a bid to tap a younger, more diverse consumer demographic.
In the official trailer for Black Panther, the Wakanda-born superhero, portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, figures in a tense road chase while clinging on the roof of his Lexus LC 500, while his sister, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is behind the wheel. This exciting cameo in the movie, which is poised to become another blockbuster hit for the film giant, is expected to put an end to the seven-year drought Lexus has suffered as a luxury brand leader in the U.S.
Snagging a prominent role in Black Panther is no accident for Lexus. Speaking to Bloomberg at the American International Auto Show in Detroit, Cooper Ericksen, Lexus' vice president of market, said the car company needed to tap a new audience in order to successfully launch its more sporty, performance-oriented image.
Ericksen explained the Toyota Motor Corp. brand is tapping younger customers, a population that gets more culturally diverse the younger it goes. The shift is primarily due to the fact that younger buyers have become the stronger consumers as baby boomers have grown old and retired. The demographic has also become increasingly non-white. Spending for black, Hispanic, and Asian consumers is growing faster than that of white consumers in the U.S.The problem with this transition, however, is that changing to high-performance vehicles with a less conservative image might affect how older, loyal patrons will react to them. In recent releases, Lexus' designs have become more aggressive in terms of style, starting with the company's LF-1 concept.
In an interview with CarBuzz(via Motor Trend) Jack Bracken, group vice president and general manager of Lexus, said he has received calls from longtime customers expressing their disappointment for the company's current styling. Most of these customers have been with the company since its early days and have been used to its sleek, yet classic designs.
However, Lexus isn't planning to backpedal on their plans and insists it is worth the risk. Bracken added that the strategic move may result in loss of traditional customers, but it is hoped that the gains far exceeds the losses.
Meanwhile, Black Panther is set to premiere in theaters on Feb. 16 and is expected to hit the $120 million weekend ticket sales mark for its debut.