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Lexus Transforms Online Car Shopping with 'Elevated Third Category': Certified Pre-Owned

January 26, 2004

In what it called "a bold move to raise awareness and consumer access to Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles," Lexus on Jan. 26 introduced what it said is "another first in the automotive industry." The luxury automaker has created alliances with seven top automotive web sites to prominently call out “Certified Pre-Owned” as a distinct vehicle category on their home pages, in addition to the current categories of “New” and “Used.” The revised sites will begin going live in mid-January 2004.In response to more than 18 months of indepth research that showed consumers had limited knowledge -- as well as some misconceptions -- about manufacturer CPO programs, Lexus approached top automotive sites and proposed the idea of elevating CPO to a third, distinct category alongside new and used. The result: consumers will now be able to learn more about CPO programs and search their favorite auto sites specifically for CPO vehicles, according to Lexus.Participating sites include Autobytel.com, AutoTrader.com, AutoWeb.com, cars.com, CarsDirect.com, Edmunds.com and Yahoo!®Autos.In addition to providing enhanced access to CPO vehicle listings, these sites will offer information where consumers can learn about CPO programs. Editorial content will include items such as what defines a CPO vehicle, what to look for when purchasing a CPO vehicle, comparisons of CPO programs and editorial reviews of CPO programs, according to Lexus.“With this new program, Lexus is elevating consumer understanding of the CPO category and broadening awareness,” said Marv Ingram, national certified pre-owned/fleet manager for Lexus. “Consumers will now have the opportunity to visit their local dealerships with as much knowledge of CPO programs as they currently have of new and used vehicles. We are helping them become informed at the right time and the right place during the shopping process.”Notably, while Lexus has secured the advertising exclusive for all top-level CPO pages, each site will maintain complete editorial control of the content to ensure that the information is objective, credible and, therefore, most valuable to consumers, according to the company. This is a key differentiating factor for this marketing effort. Unlike a typical “ad buy,” Lexus says it encouraged the sites to create a whole new category, complete with rich, unbiased educational CPO content for consumers. This move helps build credibility overall for CPO as a category, Lexus said.“We’re so confident that consumers will find the Lexus CPO program to be the best out there that we are willing to lead the charge in providing consumers with the information they need to objectively compare our program to everyone else’s in the industry,” added Ingram. “This new category not only will benefit consumers, but also the car retailing industry overall. All vehicle manufacturers with CPO programs will benefit from the official distinction of the CPO category online, and consumers’ increased access to information about their programs and their vehicle inventories.” Lexus will support the launch of the new online category with an advertising campaign that includes radio, print and online ads. Some Lexus banner ads will allow consumers to learn more about CPO and search for Lexus CPO vehicles, both on banners within the auto sites, as well as on the newly refreshed LexusCPO.com, where consumers can get information specifically about the brand’s program.About LexusLexus says it has become synonymous with luxury since its introduction in 1989. It has become the top-selling luxury nameplate in the United States for four years in a row.Lexus and its 200 dealers have repeatedly achieved high honors for both the products they sell and the customer service they provide as rated by the independent research firm of J.D. Power and Associates.
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