Toyota's 'DecoPrius' Winks at Hello Kitty Demographic

At a showroom in Tokyo last week, Toyota got in touch with its girly side. With the “DecoPrius,” a candy-apple red custom Toyota Prius emblazoned with decorative rhinestones, the carmaker hopes to catch the eye of a demographic that is growing increasingly cold to a product that once exemplified cool: the automobile.

According to a Bloomberg News, Japanese carmakers are scrambling to find new ways to get young people—particularly young women—interested in cars again. The article cites data from CSM Worldwide, an automotive market research firm, which has found that 90 percent of Japanese Prius buyers are men and that 70 percent are older than 50.

Custom Honda Pastel

Honda’s Custom “Pastel”

To counter this, Toyota looked to “DecoDen,” a custom decorative style that has been very popular with young Japanese females in recent years. DecoDen allows consumers to transform generic or ubiquitous products like notebooks or iPhones, into something one-of-a-kind. Throughout Asia, young people bring their laptops and handheld electronics into shops that in turn, cover them in rhinestones arranged into elaborate custom designs. Many also choose to customize items themselves, using home Deco kits.

Mitsubishi Hello Kitty Car

In 2006, Mitsubishi used Hello Kitty branding to help market the Mitsubishi i. The company is producing a limited number of electric versions—without Hello Kitty stickers—of the Mitsubishi i in Japan.

Though there’s no indication that Toyota will be offering a Deco-edition Prius for sale anytime soon, the company’s Scion nameplate—which is aggressively marketed towards younger buyers—has been offering customized vehicles for a few years. (Mini Cooper buyers similarly can customize their rooftop decals.) In an age saturated with competing brand identities, companies like American Apparel, Dell and now Toyota, are realizing that many consumers—particularly younger ones—would rather make one good product their own than chose from three or four clumsily-designed efforts to appeal to a particular subculture.

Accordingly, Honda plans to significantly cut the number of models it sells in Japan in the coming years and is already incorporating custom paint jobs and aftermarket accessories into its sales strategy. The company’s Japanese website offers an array of exotic colors and finishes for the exterior, and dozens custom upholstery fabrics, floor-mats, and steering wheels for the interior. With its top-selling hybrid, the Prius, currently dominating sales in Japan, Toyota may soon have to follow suit, or risk a backlash from consumers not wanting to be “just another Prius.”

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  • Samie

    You can see some interesting differences & similarities b/t young people in the U.S. & Japan.

    If you follow the article to Bloomberg you will read quote:
    “Cars ranked 17th among the 25 most popular products and services among current university students, according to a survey by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association in March. Computers, clothes, portable music players, communication devices such as mobile phones and travel topped the list. Cars ranked much higher, seventh, among survey respondents in their 40s and 50s who were asked to reflect on their preferences as college students, with the electronic devices ranking lower. “

    US or Japan this should be a no brainier as most of the time credit is better or more established when you get older & sometimes the amount of disposal income. Simple understanding of pricing of many electronics vs a vehicle should be noted as a laptop $500-2000 is easier to purchase then say a 12-22k vehicle.

    The difference I think in Japan & the U.S is women here don’t always want everything girly on or in a vehicle as most people after college want something that meets their needs but shows some responsibility/ moving up, or adulthood that does not make them look like they are stuck in high school. In the U.S. if we see a custom Prius it may send the wrong message in that some could think of a rich hipster girls mom&dad buying it for her & spending 22k plus w/ customs for high school or college. I think Toyota is trying to branch the Prius out to other demographic groups not try to create a narrow image of the car brand but getting too carried away w/ custom options may create bad PR for some. So the idea could work say for new car companies from India or China that if possible could sell cheap cars for 5-8k w/c is where you could create this market. Also if auto deals want to attract younger consumers, they should stop w/ the fake sells events/misleading fine print on ads & treat women of all ages like they are humans not someone who will buy a vehicle b/c its got a great cup holder & vanity mirror.

  • Mr.Bear

    It looks like the demographic they are shooting for is 10-year old girls. I’m pretty sure they can’t drive.

    Stick to quality Toyota. The American auto makers got hung up on how cars looked instead of quality. See how well that worked out for them.

  • Dom

    Duh! Toyota probably has the most bland-looking line of cars… I wouldn’t want one either!

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Dom, I know that this is a repeat, but the Prius is not built for looks. Please remember that the coefficient of drag is exponential, not proportional. Therefore, the car manufactures are duplicating what Toyota found out (aerodymanics) rather than copying the Prius “look”. The best example I can think of is to look at the noses of a Learjet, a Gulfstream, any Boeing 7X7 series, and any Aerobus series. All these airplanes have the same basic nose shape with only minor different “styles”. They all have this same basis shape because it is the most aerodynamic shape. The Prius has its shape because of aerodynamics (CD 0.25), not because of Toyota wanting that to be its “style”. A Corvette has great style, but it does not have aerodynamics (CD >0.28) as good as the Prius or the Honda Insight. From the looks of the new Nissan Leaf, it may be more aerodynamic than the Corvette. Since it will takes more power to push a less aerodynamic car through the air, and therefore more gas rather than less, style does not get as much attention now as it did back in the gas guzzling days. Although you may not like it, my guess is that more and more cars are going to be manufactured “looking” like the Prius because it is a very aerodynamic automotive shape.

  • sean t

    And also the bullet trains . . .

  • sean t

    And also, style is very subjective. Everyone has their own taste. . .
    Otherwise, the whole world should have been crazy.

  • qqRockyBeans

    I like the Hello Kitty Testarossa better

  • Anonymous

    BEAUTIFUL CAR…. i love it 🙂

  • Neville Ross

    But can you afford one?

  • tapra2

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