By on August 22, 2013


Toyota’s Lexus brand is going into the luxury consumer goods business by opening the first Intersect By Lexus store in The Aoyoma district of Tokyo at the end of the month. Lexus hopes that selling things like Italian leather bags will improve the Toyota luxury brand’s image, particularly outside the United States, where Lexus has been successful. Other Intersect By Lexus stores will open in Dubai and New York City.


Bloomberg reports that the stores will provide Lexus owners and potential customers with the Lexus experience “without getting behind a steering wheel,” a statement that is likely to provoke some scoffing from car enthusiasts. The fashionable Aoyoma section of Tokyo is home to stores like Prada and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The 3,563-square-foot Lexus store will house a cafe, garage, the luxury goods shop plus and a “library lounge” where people can buy modern “Tokyo-themed foods.”

While the purpose of the stores is to grow the brand globally, the fact that NYC was included in the plans may be a reflection of the fact that Lexus, used to being the best selling premium brand in the United States, has been number three for the last couple of years, behind BMW and Mercedes-Benz. That Daimler brand also outsells Lexus in Japan.

Approximately 50% of Lexus’ global sales are in the U.S. and while the company lagged behind its German competitors in that market since 2011, year to date sales are up 12% in the U.S. from last year, a greater percentage increase than seen by BMW and M-B.

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27 Comments on “Toyota’s Lexus Brand Opens Luxury Goods Stores to Provide Lexus Experience “Without Getting Behind a Steering Wheel”...”

  • avatar

    “LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton”

    That would be Louis Vuitton Hennessy Moet.

    I’m not sure this is the best idea, sort of like a Ferrari store, but without the Ferrari branded merchandise. It’s just a department store with goods dictated by the people doing marketing for a car brand.

    Surely, they will have to include Coach bags.

  • avatar

    Wonder if they’ll have recalls on the merchandise too?

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the 1980s and people buying Porsche keychains and driving gloves as a dating accessory.

  • avatar

    They’re trying to convince people Lexus isn’t a marketing exercise, but a symbol of an exclusive lifestyle? It might help, but Lexus is the chariot of choice in working-class neighborhoods where I live. It really hurts your brand image when half of the Lexuses you see are second or third-hand, neglected and covered in dirt, have bubbled and peeling tint, with hazed headlights and crappy tires, driven by people who wear synthetic fiber.

    I think it dilutes the Lexus brand if you’re just selling random luxury goods. It’s so cliche… I bet they’ll line the windows with Dom Perignon, bags with gaudy logos and other signals of conspicuous consumption. “HEY GUYS, WE’RE A LUXURY BRAND!!!! LOOK AT ALL THESE FANCY THINGS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR PRODUCT.” Psh.

    Want to improve your brand image, Lexus? Here’s a start Have closed loop carpet in the cargo area of all of your hatchbacks and SUVs. Don’t have blank buttons all over the interior of your cars. Get rid of that stitching in the dash of the ES350. There’s not even leather there. You’re trying way too hard. By the way, have you seen the base non-navigation interior of the ES350? Just look at a Youtube video of one. Embarrassing.

    Lexus. The appearance of luxury.

  • avatar

    “Hey, nice muzak. Is that ‘Novocaine for the Soul’ by the Eels?”

    Lexus’s key problem for much of the non-US market is the lack of brand heritage and motorsport. They engineer a hell of a car, but as many have pointed out, they’re more about isolated comfort than engaging driving.

    I haven’t driven any of the current batch, but it takes several generations to overcome a reputation. Just look at VW and their reliability concerns. You can’t shake stuff easily, not in today’s competitive landscape.

  • avatar

    As a former BMW owner who bought a new IS350, I won’t argue for Lexus’ styling, but from a content standpoint, I’m quite happy to have replaced my 335 with the IS350. The IS is no longer a miniature car (unlike Gen1 and Gen2 versions) and handles beautifully. Sadly, the “lifestyle” issue is dogging every company these days. I recently received a survey from Porsche which I filled out and the vast majority of the questions had to do with how a Porsche made me feel or how it was perceived by others, but virtually nothing to do with Porsche heritage, engineering or their incredible record in motorsports. And from the majority of BMW owners I run into, if you put a roundel on a Honda Accord, they’d be just as happy.

    “Luxury” entirely varies with the buyer. For many it is about how others see them, for some it is a car that provides a specific feel outside of the mainstream “appliance”, for some it is about isolation from the road. As with all of the ridiculous assortment of “luxury” goods, the vast majority of it is marketed to the bourgeoisie as a means to play a role or bolster one’s self image. As one who’s reasonably immune to the “lifestyle” luxury, I am quite aware that I enjoy performance vehicles in the same way that some folks enjoy fine wine or other luxury goods. Not better, just different.

    • 0 avatar

      The new IS350 F sport is certainly a different animal. When I was shopping e90 BMWs back in ’07, the IS wasn’t even a consideration. The new one, though, looks amazing, actually has a back seat, and is apparently a great drive. I like the F30 BMWs, but the styling isn’t great and the pricing has gone a bit out of control. It will be interesting to see if the 6MT makes a comeback with the 2.0T next year or the year after. IS200t F sport, 6MT would be very compelling.

      • 0 avatar

        I hope they will still make the ISF in the new body style. I just wished they put the 6MT in that. I’ve been looking at the S4, M3, and C63 too. It just that I would buy the ISF and lease the others. If Lexus put the 5.0 V8 in the GS body, I’ll head to the dealer now.

        • 0 avatar

          That 5.0L is a peach. It just sounds so angry all the time. Sadly, I’m only comfortable spending $45k on a car, so a GS500 would be out of my range. An IS200t F sport w/ 6MT would possibly have a 3 as the first digit for MSRP… which is hard to come by these days. An M sport 328i with no options is $42k!

          With the M4 coming as dual clutch only, I think the 6MT in a compact sport sedan is certainly on the endangered list. I don’t hate modern shiftable autos (M5 V10 SMG, IS-F 8AT, etc) are all great transmissions as far as the driving performance experience, but I worry about overall durability and if the novelty will wear off.

        • 0 avatar

          The V8 is heavy addition to the front of this car.

          Looking at the power and torque curves for the 4.6 vs 5.0 the major difference is the peak later rpms. A 5,200 rpm peak on a 4,000 lbs car cannot be entertaining. The V6 GS and AWD would be a better balanced package. Though not quick on a highway roll vs my Trifecta tuned Verano, still quick.

      • 0 avatar

        My IS350 is an F-Sport model and while the 335 I traded was a six-speed, three pedal car, I’m enjoying the auto in the Lexus. It’s not quite as engaging as a stick, but in traffic, where I spend too much of my driving time, the stick is a PITA. In Sport+ mode, the auto shift logic is superb. And by comparison, the F30 feels cheap.

        • 0 avatar

          @Edgett, Congrats on the IS350 F-Sport!! Given what BMW hath wrought on the 3 series, the IS350 seems to be the best overall choice by some distance in that category. Lexus customer service and expected reliability combined with great driving characteristics is a tough combination to beat. Just a great product at a relatively reasonable price. Unfortunately, this Lexus luxury shop stuff tends to send me in the other direction from the brand (much like those “gold” trim packages that seem to gaudify more Lexii than any other vehicles)That said, you’re right that this kind of overly conscious “luxury” marketing (or even just lifestyle marketing of any sort) is irritatingly impossible to avoid with any brand. It seems to be getting worse all the way around.

    • 0 avatar

      If Lexus offered an IS wagon, I’d probably be all over it. My only real beef with the IS sedan is the pillbox-like sight lines. With a family to tote around, I consider outward visibility the single most important (and overlooked) safety element of any car.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    WTF? LV is an European brand. Doesn’t that associate with MB more?

    The Lexus store really should be selling some authentic and rare Asian products.

  • avatar

    It’s hard to say what motivates people to buy premium or luxury goods. There’s the public signaling from competitive consumption; it might actually be a better product; it could be retail self-therapy; building an identity; etc. etc. The problem for luxury car manufacturers is how to grow themselves in both mature and emerging markets, with diverging preferences, disposable incomes, distribution and marketing costs.

    I see BMW and Mercedes have a good range of aspirational lifestyle accessories in their car showrooms. Lexus currently has some, but you can tell that all they’ve done is contract out their products with a trophy and engraving company. If they’re going to do this, it should be Asian-centric or cutting edge products. Carbon fiber luggage, lacquerware, artisan leather goods, and maybe EV bikes.

    My suggestion to the MBA’s running Lexus: start publicly slandering your competition. I know it goes totally against the dogma of luxury marketing to emotions rather than logic, but hear me out. You have a huge competitive advantage over every other manufacturer: you build reliable durable vehicles that are quiet and comfortable. No one takes market share from others unless there is a compelling reason to switch. Reliability is an engineering issue, and you have the best engineers. Go ahead and mail magazines to your existing customer base and high net worth zip codes that remind their highly educated readers what Audi window regulators are like, why BMW stopped using Valvetronic, or why Range Rover places last in many owner surveys. And just how has a 5 year old Hyundai Genesis fared against a 5 year old ES or GS?

    The competition can’t even fight you fairly. What are they going to do, say that their non-street legal non-roadworthy race cars make them better? That they’ve been around decades longer, when they were second rate next to Detroit? That they are more expensive and that makes them better, just like Vertu is supposed to be the answer to Apple?

    Be the thinking man’s luxury car brand.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly right, the thinking man’s luxury brand. Which for all intents and purposes is what they are — at least for word-of-mouth sales. Like you, I also see a disconnect in the marketing…Lexus shouldn’t even fight on luxury intangibles, they should capitalize on having the best tangibles. Most buyers in this segments aren’t going to car about a nearly imperceptible difference in driving dynamics between Lexus and BMW. They’re more pragmatic than that — they’re the people who run companies successfully based on proven track records; not the upper-middle managers who lease a car for its badge impression.

    • 0 avatar

      An Associate Press article seems to indicate the Intersect stores as cafes, not a market for baubles and tchotchke’s.—not-showing-cars/article13937211/

      I still don’t see the point. Lexus is pretty close to losing me to Tesla as a customer, mainly because I don’t like the direction the company has taken with a half-ass effort with the new LS; the mouse controllers; steel chassis instead of aluminum like some competitors; and lack of frugal engine choices.

      I was just thinking, my above suggestion of going negative on competitors might work well as a viral campaign aimed at the young. It can be done ironically to avoid offending the older customers, and can be something like a BMW driver broken down on the side of the road, pulling her hair out, muttering “My car makes my heart race.”

  • avatar

    The building looks much better than Lexus nasty looking cars but then that’s certainly faint praise.

  • avatar

    As if I needed another reason to never purchase a Lexus…

  • avatar

    So do they hand you a Big Gulp sized Red Bull when ya go in to keep you from falling asleep in the dullness?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    What could they possibly be thinking? Marketing your vehicles in a store that will be filled with gold-diggers, conspicuous consumers, and brand whores? A sensible, well made type of shoes car being marketed to the “hey sailor” stiletto heel crowd? This is just so wrong.

  • avatar

    My dream is that one day Cadillac will meet the standard of the world set by Lexus.

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