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Byline: MARILYN MUCH
Toyota marketing executives at a rave party?
No, it wasn't a new spin on corporate bonding exercises. Instead, raves were just one place the carmaker collected information about Gen Y drivers.
When Toyota marketers began developing specs for a new car aimed at young trendsetters three years ago, they knew they had a tough road ahead.
Toyota is one of many forward-looking companies courting a new generation of buyers. Savvy marketers from cosmetic firms and clothing retailers are spending big bucks designing and marketing products for the younger crowd. The reason? Consumers ages 18 to 24 spend an estimated $250 billion yearly on all sorts of goods.
Toyota expects members of this group to buy more cars as they age. By 2020, the Gen Y group will account for 40% of new light vehicles bought in the U.S. -- or 6.5 million units. That's up from 25% of new purchases in 2010, and 5% in 2001. Also by 2010, all members of Gen Y will be old enough to have a driver's license.
Echo Didn't Resonate
Toyota has always scored big with the older crowd. But the Japanese carmaker has yet to strike a chord with the Gen Y set, born between 1977 and 1995.
The new car -- eventually named …