Mazda: Defining Trends Toward Commercial SuccessBy Andrea Villar | Thu, 03/25/2021 - 13:21
The pandemic forced the automotive sector to redefine how brands do business. Mazda was one of the companies in the industry that showed how to deal with a crisis, while still putting the customer at the center of its corporate strategy. “In the last 12 months, consumer trends have changed for the better. The world is experiencing a renaissance that brings great opportunities. Even though there is still a long way to go, we have all rethought personal, health, financial and work goals and, above all, our spiritual needs,” said Miguel Barbeyto, President of Mazda, during his presentation at Mexico Automotive Summit 2021 on Thursday, Mar. 25.
Most people, Barbeyto added, have new and more real values. “Living for the material has become a negative trait. Today we need to communicate in different ways; people want to socialize again. What I miss most is not going to the office but socializing and talking to people,” he said.
Among the new habits that are here to stay, Mazda's CEO said that remote and co-working schemes will become part of people's daily lives. “We had to realize the hard way that what we were used to doing before the pandemic was no good at all.” Distance education will suffer the same fate, Barbeyto added. “Education will no longer be the way it was. Even if we go back to a face-to-face format, there will be people who prefer to continue learning at a distance and we have to adapt.”
After more than a year with no concerts and not being able to experience going to the cinema as before, Barbeyto said people have taken refuge in outdoor activities. "More and more people are exercising outdoors. We are not used to being locked up." However, this situation has been an opportunity for companies to rethink the way they do business. “All companies have had to develop new strategies to better meet the needs of consumers in the city.”
All these changes, although they may not seem like it, directly affect Mazda, Barbeyto said. “We do not see our competition as just the OEMs but any other business or sector, whether it is a school, a restaurant or an entertainment venue. At the end of the day, the consumer is adopting new ways of consuming and we have more competition because they only have one salary to cover all their needs, whether basic or recreational. We have to know how to differentiate ourselves.”
For Mazda, one of the biggest challenges at the start of the pandemic was understanding what distributors, Mazda Corporation, employees and customers wanted. “Achieving a perfect balance between these players was tremendously challenging but also rewarding,” Barbeyto said in an interview with MBN back in February. Today, the brand is clear that immediacy, customer service and logistics are key to standing out in an increasingly competed and digitized market. “Now, more than ever, in a digital world, the certainty that we give to customers is fundamental. We have to give them the confidence that what they are buying will arrive on time and in good quality. Sometimes, we create strategies thinking about what the company wants. But no, everything has to be linked to what the client is looking for,” Barbeyto pointed out.
This strategy, coupled with the brand's charm, allowed Mazda to close 2020 with a market share of 4.9 percent. "We want to close 2021 with the same percentage. We do not want to focus on winning new customers but to keep the ones we have," Barbeyto said. Among the opportunities and trends, the brand sees sustainability and automation. Currently, at Mazda's Salamanca plant, 40 percent of the processes are automated. However, Barbeyto is confident that the human touch cannot be replaced. “When the vehicle is finished, female workers check that the product is in perfect quality conditions. That cannot be done by a machine, yet.”
In terms of recovery, there is still a long way to go, says Barbeyto. “Recovery will be rather slow. We are forecasting that it will take us until 2024 to reach the industry levels of 2019. There is no macroeconomic indicator that suggests otherwise. There are activities like production and exports that are responding much better. To boost recovery, the economic base would have to be much stronger. There should be more support for entrepreneurs and SMEs,” he told MBN.