1. What microenvironmental factors affect the introduction and sale of the Toyota Prius? How well has Toyota dealt with these factors? The Company: The company has expended plenty of money on R&D and marketing of the Prius. Why? Toyota expects the Prius to set the table for the entry of a line of hybrids from mini-compacts to luxury vehicles. Thus, the car is an important component of company strategy. To successfully introduce the Prius and build this new line of vehicles will require coordination within the company.
Suppliers: With the successful introduction of the Prius, companies such as Panasonic may invest more in R&D to develop cheaper batteries. If they can do so, this will result in lower prices that, in turn, may further stimulate demand. Thus, it is to Toyota’s advantage to work with suppliers to encourage this R&D. Marketing Intermediaries: The most important marketing intermediaries here would be dealers. Toyota had to prepare materials for dealers and their sales people so that they could sell the Prius.
The case indicates that only 75 percent of Toyota dealers actually handle the car. Their cooperation is critical to Toyota. Without their assistance, the company cannot sell the Prius. Customers: The case indicates that Toyota carefully studies the consumer market and adapted its marketing accordingly. It thought innovators and adapters who are likely to be techies would be the purchasers and the evidence indicates that the company was right. With this market in mind, Toyota pushed the technology of the car, used the Internet and promoted environmental aspects of the vehicle.
Techies are highly likely to be on the net and may be pro-environmental. They are certainly interested in technology given the description of owners modifying their Priuses given in the case. Competitors: A major aspect of Toyota’s strategy was to get a jump on competitors who will have to enter the market later. Again correctly guessing that American companies would be slow to introduce hybrids, Toyota and Honda entered first and that may help them in marketing hybrids in the future. They were the first may lead to they were the best.
Toyota seems to have been more willing to enter this market and establish a technological lead although American companies appear to begrudgingly planning on entering the market. Publics: There is no specific mention of publics in the case, but Toyota did flood the media and news groups with videos and press releases on the cars. Their Earth Day promotion got them additional media coverage and may have helped their relations with environmental groups. Successful sales of the car, which lead to sales of more hybrids in the future, would endear the company to financial publics such as investors.
Given the general attention given to the vehicle in the media, the general public may be favorably disposed toward a company that aims to reduce emissions and lower gas mileage. Another public that Toyota studied was the government. They understood correctly that American politicos will be pushing for higher gas standards and willing to supply a tax deduction for consumers purchasing more environmentally friendly cars that get higher gasoline mileage. These are helpful factors in overcoming the higher prices when selling to consumers.