Citroen's Yuko Yokoyama

20th February, 2005

It's the dream job of every small boy and more than a few men, spending every day with hundreds of model cars, working with the CitroŽn Sport rally team, not to mention the designers of every new CitroŽn model and dreaming up everything from toys to clothes.

For Yuko Yokoyama, producing $4.0 million of model cars for sale in 50 countries around the world is just part of her work as Project Manager for CitroŽn's parts and services department. In 2004 she also produced 230,000 copies of the CitroŽn Sport catalogue in 21 languages; 135,000 copies of the CitroŽn Children's toys catalogue for 18 countries and 20 languages and 100,000 copies of a catalogue specifically for model CitroŽn cars that were sent to 19 countries in 17 languages.

Not that this multi-million dollar business - it is worth more than $10 million a year - is anything new for CitroŽn. Andre CitroŽn himself launched CitroŽn's very first model car, a 1:10 scale model of a 5C, in 1923.

More than 80 years later CitroŽn is still producing models of the 5C, plus just about every CitroŽn produced between then and now. Model cars remain the favourite product produced by Yuko Yokoyama's department, with a three car set of the CitroŽn Rally team, including miniature team members and - appropriately for the 2004 double world champions - a winner's podium being the runaway success story of the year.

Yuko Yokoyama is responsible for developing all the merchandising lines, from design, through production and marketing to world wide distribution.

"It takes about nine months to create a comprehensive product line for the launch of each new CitroŽn model," explains Yuko Yokoyama. "This means that we must start work long before a new car is launched and while it is still secret. Suppliers have to sign the same confidentiality agreements as companies supplying parts for the real cars."

The types of models and merchandising for each new car are chosen based on the targeted customer base, the key technical attributes and special features of each model and the programme has to be aligned with the marketing programmes for the model.

With the CitroŽn C3 Pluriel, for example, it was decided that it was very important that the model car range for the Pluriel include a large scale model that could reproduce all the different roof positions of the real car.

Thus, just like the real car, the models roof comes off, the roof rails come off and the seats fold down to produce the small Ute for which the C3 Pluriel is famed. When CitroŽn marketing decided that orange was the theme colour for the Pluriel, this then flowed through all the accessories and models for the Pluriel.

These accessories all represented the trendy, open air lifestyle of the CitroŽn C3 Pluriel, such as orange beach towels, miniature fridges and clothing, while some match the use of translucent plastic used in the smallest CitroŽns.

In addition to the products tied to specific models, CitroŽn also produces four lines of luxury merchandise:

  • The Paris Collection: Ties, leather products, Schaeffer pens and watches
  • The Oxygen Collection: binoculars, Delsey travel products, outdoor clothing, Swiss Army penknives
  • The Passion Collection: CitroŽn Sport rally team themed items, such as driving suits, goggles, sports watches
  • The Andre CitroŽn Collection: Historic miniatures, models and items

It additional to new model ranges for the CitroŽn C1, C4 and C6, 2005 will see the start of the roll-out of the internet-based CitroŽn Boutique with the plan that each country will have its own dedicated web site which, thanks to being supported centrally, will offer the full range of CitroŽn merchandise.

"The range of CitroŽn merchandise now flows across the full gamut of our business," says Yuko Yokoyama. "First there are the promotions and sales products that assist in the launch, promotion and marketing of CitroŽn products. Second is the volume segment, such as the model cars which are sold in ever increasing numbers, and thirdly there are the products that enhance the ownership experience for owners."

"We may have started with model cars and they may remain the heart of our business, but the scale and range of our products now more than matches the number and range of CitroŽn owners!"

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