Mazda dealers promised ad blitz in April
Mazda CX-3 sales in the U.S. are up 6 percent to 2,609 units through February. Dealers were told that five of the six vehicles now in U.S. showrooms will receive major overhauls in the next 18 months.
LAS VEGAS — Mazda will roll out a major advertising campaign to reposition the brand after talking with dealers who feel its marketing has been lackluster in recent months and the marque is losing its connection with consumers.
“Starting in April, you will see the new mindset,” said Jim Bagan, Mazda National Dealer Advisory Council chairman, following the brand’s make meeting.
“It is so significantly different from where we’ve been, and who we’ve been talking to, and how we’ve been talking to them,” Bagan told Automotive News. “We really think that this could give us a significantly better position in the consumer’s mind of what the brand stands for.”
Mazda products are kind of the best kept secret in the industry, he said, but that’s not a good position for dealers who want to increase overall volume and dealer throughput by double digits over the next several years.
Mazda’s U.S. sales fell 3 percent in 2017 to 289,470 vehicles. Sales grew 14 percent to 59,693 units during the first two months of this year.
Bagan, who co-owns four Texas Mazda dealerships, says the brand wants to move to retail sales of about 400,000 vehicles once a recently announced U.S. factory with Toyota in Alabama starts producing a new Mazda crossover.
The shift in brand focus will also make its way to the dealerships through training programs that adopt sales stratgies that are more like Audi and less like Toyota as the brand moves upscale, Bagan said.
Mazda will be able to do that because of the technology it will put in its vehicles, including the new Skyactiv high-compression engine that behaves like a traditional gasoline powerplant but achieves hybrid-like efficiency.
Dealers were told that five of the six vehicles now in showrooms will receive major overhauls in the next 18 months, and the new crossover coming out of the Alabama joint venture with Toyota will move Mazda into a new segment.
Mazda’s approach to incentives and financing is also changing from a national model to a regional model to better attract buyers. Lease offers will focus on lease-heavy markets, for example, Bagan said.
On the introduction of electric cars, dealers were told they are coming “sooner than later,” but without a fixed timeline. Bagan said the new consortium of automakers working together on electric vehicles –including Mazda, Toyota and Subaru — gives dealers confidence that EVs will be ready when buyers want them.