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Robert Trigaux

Breakthrough? Toyota becomes first car company to pitch vehicles on HSN

9

October

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On HSN, Toyota focused on explaining hybrid technology in its vehicles to a mostly female audience. Photo courtesy of Toyota.

Wake up and good morning. Toyota quietly slipped on to HSN this past Sunday in three 1-hour time blocks to become the first car company to ever use the TV/online retailer to try and sell its vehicles. Specifically, Toyota used HSN to pitch its hybrid cars which the company felt could use that extra time to explain to viewers how the vehicles worked and discuss the benefits to those who buy them.

Toyota, according to this USA Today story, could not have been more pleased. Toyota spokesman Steve Curtis said the company got more requests for product information after the first hour than it expected to get all day. To be clear, Toyota could not directly sell vehicles on HSN because of state dealer franchise laws. But it could offer information and urged viewers to call in for free coffee mugs, a chance to qualify for $1,000 worth of gas or an HSN shopping credit if they opted to purchase a car.

Is this a breakthrough for St. Petersburg-based HSN? After all, HSN's been quite successful catering mostly to a women audience and selling mostly women's clothing, jewelry and kitchen gadgets, though under CEO Mindy Grossman the retailer has pushed into laptops and tablets. But cars?

Says USA Today: "HSN executives say they were thrilled by the 'unprecedented' event as more evidence of how far the (shopping) channel has come."

Toyota vice president Ed Laukes told the newspaper that the biggest hurdle was convincing Toyota insiders that going on HSN would burnish the car brand or help sell cars. Chalk up one in the Win column for both Toyota and HSN.

--Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 8:09am]

    

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