Promising Sales Figures Encouraging Customer-Focused StrategiesTue, 09/01/2015 - 12:22
Q: Now that Mexico’s auto sales figures are starting to rise after a decade of continuous stagnation, how does this affect Mazda’s overall strategy in the country?
A: When Mazda entered the market back in 2005, the company was able to overcome the difficulties in the industry by launching a new generation of products. By investing in Mexico, just as we did after announcing our Salamanca plant in 2011, Mazda has been able to negate some of the effects of recent exchange rate fluctuations. The company is now in the process of launching its sixth generation vehicles. We have already launched the Mazda6, the Mazda3, the locally produced Mazda2, and the CX-5, which is the third best-selling medium-sized SUV. The summer of 2015 saw the launch of the MX-5 Roadster, which has sold approximately 900,000 units globally over a 25-year period, making it the best-selling and most famous roadster in history. Ever since Mazda set foot in the Mexican market, the most accepted and successful model has been the Mazda3. Its design, the driver dynamics, the customer satisfaction, and its maintenance costs were determining variables for its popularity. At the moment, 55% of our sales volume in Mexico consists of Mazda3 models, while, on an international level, the car represents around 40%. Even though the C-segment is not as big for us as the B-segment, our C-segment is growing, now representing 13% of our sales volume.
Q: Given the reputation that the Mazda3 has in the Mexican market, has Mazda released a modified version to satisfy its markets specific needs?
A: The design has remained the same as its international counterparts, but we have tropicalized it in order to fit climate and cultural needs within the market. We always build our cars in a way that will fit the customers’ needs and expectations, adapting them based on specific factors of a given market, such as weather and altitude conditions. In order to tropicalize any product, Japanese and American engineers are brought in to assess these required differences and apply them. Even though the Mazda3 has a strong presence in Mexico, we have a clear strategy that consists of a segmented product division. This separation is made in order to diversify our products and build a specific marketing and communication strategy for each category.
We have our support products, our halo products, and our core products including the Mazda3, Mazda6, and the Mazda CX-5. What defines a certain product’s category is the volume that it represents in the marketplace. Throughout 2014, we sold a total of almost 41,000 units in Mexico, representing a 3.9% market share. Naturally, our objective for 2015 is to increase that volume to around 47,000 units in order to meet the demand of the region.
Q: Who would be the ideal customer for each of the new models that you are launching?
A: Ideally, we want customers who love Mazda’s design and have a passion for driving. In terms of its design, this particular factor is what differentiates our brand worldwide. Our brand is based upon four pillars. The first is our SKYACTIV Technology, which involves the engine, transmission, body, chassis, and all other developments that our Japanese engineers have built from scratch. The second pillar is Mazda’s KODO design (Soul of Motion), something that has been quite beneficial within the Mexican market, tapping into customers’ emotions and assimilating with European designs. The third is Mazda’s Connect Technology, which allows users to synchronize their mobile devices with the car’s features and connect to social media using HMIs. Finally, we have SKYACTIVSENSE, a system that incorporates safety mechanisms within an automobile, such as blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and dynamic stability control.
Q: How much room for growth is there for Mazda’s dealerships in Mexico?
A: There is a lot of room to grow in terms of our representation in the market. Mazda currently has 54 dealerships across Mexico, with presence in virtually every major city in the country. However, our expansion mechanisms have been focused on service rather than sales. For Mazda, customer satisfaction in Mexico is a big priority, so we understand the importance of taking care of our clients. Back in 2005, we never imagined our sales expectations to be as high as 47,000 units per year, and to have 230,000 units out on the streets ten years after launching our brand is just incredible. Due to the high number of cars out on the streets, we need to build the right installations to keep those units functioning properly, giving our customers the attention they deserve. In addition, we have been expanding in terms of collision centers that take care of body and paint jobs in the event of an accident.
Our rate of service retention is 84% within the first five years of a vehicle purchase, which positions us among the highest in the market. The reason for this is our competitive maintenance cost and our quality of service, as well as our competitive warranty and extended warranty options. Customer experience is of great importance. There is a huge difference in the way people purchase cars compared to the past; most customers will research their cars before they buy, so personalized attention is vital. There are almost 40 brands on the market with over 300 total vehicles to choose from, so companies have to be ready to interact closely with customers, using a number of modern techniques, in order to obtain new business. The first approach when a prospective customer enters the showroom is to ask them which car they would like to drive. The second step is to understand the kind of experience they are looking for. Finally, the most important step of the process is to have them test the product while we explain the values of SKYACTIV Technology, KODO design, Mazda Connect, and SKYACTIVSENSE. In order to show them the kind of experience they can have with a Mazda car, our dealerships are equipped with one test car for each model we carry.
Q: How do you market your new products to existing Mazda owners while encouraging brand loyalty?
A: We see the new MX-5 as a complementary car for someone that already owns a Mazda automobile, as well as being a product that will attract new customers. There are not yet any other roadsters in the Mexican market, although there are some competitors that have products with visual similarities. With that in mind, it is of the utmost importance for our sales consultants to fully understand the information they will need to provide to the customer.
Each customer will focus on different features depending on their particular interests, and in that regard, the dealer must be able to master each concept to provide an easy and effective explanation. Every time we launch a new vehicle, we have an extensive merchant training program for that car. This includes product training, postsales training, customer service, and approach training. The customer experience is vital to our business, so our sales team is just as crucial to our success. In addition, an increasingly important factor is the aftersales service we offer at our collision centers and service shops; if this is not as expected, our customers will eventually start looking for different options. To ensure a good aftersales service, we have a training team based in Mexico with members that were previously trained in Japan or the US.