Dinner With Lexus Manager Mark Templin

Lexus has been attempting to get close and personal with its customers for a while now, but traditional ways to market their product seem unreliable with the audience that the brand is targeting. In this case, it's time for a more soulful approach: a "family dinner".

Lexus Division boss Mark Templin hosted dinners at customers' homes, trying to get the insights by socializing with their families and empathizing with their needs. And for the moment, it seems that extravagant meals catered by famous chefs are one way of getting their attention.

And if Lexus wants to take back the luxury vehicles sales lead from Mercedes-Benz and start appealing to younger customers, it has to make this type of event a tradition. Lexus knows that none of the luxury consumers cares which brand sells the most cars, as they're more interested in how the car takes care of their needs.

At the first dinner, held this month in Beverly Hills, 16 current and former Lexus owners traded opinions of Lexus and other luxury brands.

"There were Mercedes owners, BMW, Audi, Land Rover and some hybrid owners," Templin said. "One lady had owned 30 different cars. Some of the people are very wealthy, but they drive nonluxury products for various reasons."

Templin had done his job pretty well, getting an inside scoop on what customers think of Lexus cars, and more. Diners have commented their experience driving Lexus cars, and even said some of them are boring to drive. Templin said that it's now their challenge to show Lexus is more fun to drive today than it was 15 years ago. He was shocked to find out that people who didn't find Lexus satisfying anymore stuck with rival brands even though they had poor customer service.

"I asked: 'Why would you stay with a brand when they treat you so bad?'" he said. "And they said, 'It's like a bad boyfriend. You just keep going back for more.' I couldn't believe it."
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