Lexus is trying to blur the line between selling things and selling an idea with the launch of their coffee shop/store/PR machine in Tokyo’s Aoyama district on August 30, 2013.
"Intersect By Lexus" will be what the company is calling a "luxury brand experience space" and the Tokyo location is meant to be the first in a series of such installations in other overpriced commercial areas around the world.
Mark Templin, executive vice president of Lexus International, says “INTERSECT BY LEXUS seeks to be a comfortable and inspiring space for interaction among people and between people and cars.”
So, a café with a car in it? What ever happened to a tired old Keurig machine in the corner of your local dealership waiting room?
Lexus is trying to find a way to battle the caché offered by European rivals. In an attempt to up the social swagger of the Oval'ed L, they figure selling expensive coffee and clothes near their cars will create the kind of association they need in buyers: "The Lexus... stuff I like...I like Lexus." Whoa, I almost felt myself get sucked in to their sales vortex just by typing that.
From the pictures in the press release, the planned space looks like cross between a Starbucks and the corner of Barnes and Noble that has a Starbucks in it.
They included this image to drive the point home:
This isn't the first time Toyota has occupied commercial space in a somewhat unprecedented manner. In 1998 they installed Le Rendez-Vous Toyota on the swanky Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris and it lives on today. I visited in 2009 and got to see a 2000GT in person, among other assorted automotive artifacts and ancient Toyotas. But Le Rendez-Vous has something you can't get anywhere else; a peek at some beautiful old vehicles you rarely, if ever, see in the wild. It's a great place for enthusiasts and passerbys alike to admire the predecessors of today's technology.
In contrast, Intersect by Lexus has only things you can get elsewhere, with the addition of an "L" badge and presumably a cost markup.
Would pop into Intersect for a professional meeting over coffee? Maybe grab a Lexus oxford shirt on your way out?