[Feature Story 2]
Further Promoting Brand Value Management
The Mazda Group promotes initiatives to enhance its product and corporate brand value, while emphasizing dialogue with customers and other stakeholders. Mazda believes that it can develop its business and enhance its corporate value by gaining the trust and support of its stakeholders. This concept is called “Brand Value Management,” and has been promoted in earnest since 2013.
Becoming a Brand with which Customers Feel an Emotional Connection
In the Structural Reform Stage 2, a medium-term business plan starting from FY March 2017, the Mazda Group sets forth global sales and network enhancement as one of its main initiatives to improve brand value. Aiming to create an emotional connection with customers in more than 130 countries/regions where Mazda vehicles are sold, the Company is driving drastic reforms at the sales frontline with an emphasis on improving customers’ brand experience.
Changing the Conventional Communication
In 2002, Mazda announced its brand slogan “Zoom-Zoom” worldwide. In synergy with sporty product lineups, the slogan has successfully formed Mazda’s brand image as it is today. “Zoom-Zoom” represents that Mazda’s creativity and innovation continuously delivers fun and exhilarating driving experiences to customers who remember the emotion of motion first felt as a child. Initially, however, the brand slogan tended to function only as a tool of the marketing communication strategy. It was therefore necessary for Mazda to change its conventional communication strategy in order to embody the brand slogan in the daily operations of distributors and dealerships, from the perspective of establishing a bond with customers.
Three Approaches to Establish an Emotional Connection with Customers
To establish an emotional connection with customers, Mazda considers it necessary to take into account all touchpoints, i.e., not only the period during which customers are in possession of a Mazda vehicle, but also the periods before they purchase the vehicle and after they let go of it. Based on this idea, marketing, sales, customer services, and other departments jointly set up a team to discuss this subject. After much discussion, the team summarized three approaches required to establish a bond with customers.
The first approach is to view customers from a lifelong perspective. In childhood, people ride in their family vehicle, and after growing up, they enjoy owning their own vehicle. Then at an advanced age, they return to riding in someone else’s vehicle. It is important to have customers continue to feel close to Mazda and Mazda vehicles over all these years. The second approach is to always provide customers with excitement and stimulation and continuously maintain the relationship so that customers can feel a stronger connection to Mazda as time proceeds. The third approach is to place particular emphasis on Mazda’s uniqueness. Examples include Mazda’s strong attachment to Hiroshima, Japan, where its Head Office is located, and its enthusiasm for offering driving pleasure.
All touch points with customers
Respecting the Cultures of Each Country/ Region while Sharing a Common Strategy
Frontline sales staff from distributors and dealerships in Japan and overseas were offered many opportunities to visit Mazda’s Head Office and plants, to deepen their understanding of and empathy with the three approaches stated above. In addition to increasing understanding of the philosophy and passion behind all Mazda vehicles, these sessions consistently emphasized the common brand value Mazda wants to offer customers through its vehicles, and the sales staff’s recognition has gradually improved.
After obtaining their understanding of and empathy with the direction of the three approaches imparted at Mazda Head Office, the Company entrusts frontline sales staff, who know well the regional characteristics, to determine and implement specific measures. This is to take careful measures tailored to the culture and customs of each country or region, and to understand and respect the needs of customers and their way of thinking. While the Mazda Group may not be a large business entity, its relatively small scale enables it to better coordinate its Group companies in each country or region, and makes it possible to share best practices throughout the Mazda Group.
Brand communication slogans tailored to the culture and customs of each country/region (As of July 2016)
Establishing an Emotional Connection through Value Co-creation
The integrated philosophy for brand value management has produced interdepartmental collaboration at the Mazda Head Office, and is gradually establishing the same system and process throughout the Mazda Group. As a result, a climate for creating new value based on the knowledge obtained through various dialogues—in other word, co-creation—is being cultivated. Through co-creation activities, the Mazda Group believes that it can offer an experience of vehicle ownership that will help customers enjoy fulfilling lives, and thereby establish emotional connection with them.
Connecting with customers
-A dialogue at Tokyo Motor Show 2015-
Every Dialogue with Customers Strengthens the Bond
Brand Strategy Department
Global Sales & Marketing Division
Changing within to Create a Connection with Customers
We aim to establish an emotional connection with our customers by strengthening their attachment to Mazda and its products. We consistently implement measures enabling all those concerned with Mazda vehicles to share the same objectives and provide a consistent brand experience across the five Ps: people, products, prices, place and promotion. The key factor behind the progress in these initiatives is the fact that the top management team declared the promotion of brand value management in 2013. Numerous dialogues and training sessions on brand value management have been held, and important viewpoints identified during this process have begun to take root within the Mazda Group.
Previously, even within the Mazda Head Office, I felt that there were not always a lot of opportunities for different departments to carry out specific measures from the same perspective. This situation was resolved by the development of brand value management. Presently, a system is being established under which divisions including research and development, production, marketing, sales and customer services work together toward co-creation.
In the past, I think that it was difficult to realize co-creation, although respective departments felt its necessity. Against this background, their field of vision must have been suddenly expanded, when top management showed them the direction to be taken.
Now I feel that we are becoming aware of the importance of co-creation, while holding discussions between concerned parties about their own problems, working together to devise solutions, and accumulating successful cases—no matter how small they may be.
Steady Activities will Eventually Produce Substantial Results
Conventionally, various events for distributors and dealerships at home and abroad have been planned and implemented primarily by the marketing and sales departments in the Mazda Head Office. However, now people involved in making vehicles, including those from the research and development, design, and production engineering divisions, also participate. Members directly involved in the creation of cars talk about the aspirations they put into each product.
After listening to their stories, participating leaders of distributors and dealerships take them back to their companies, where they share the information with other employees. These meetings also serve as a venue for important dialogue aimed at co-creation between Mazda Head Office and distributors/ dealerships. At the Tokyo Motor Show 2015*1, we organized an event focusing on the dialogue between visitors and Mazda staff in charge of vehicle development. The event received a great response both from inside and outside of the Company. Seeing this dialogue as a precious opportunity for the Mazda Group to realize co-creation with customers, we are now planning to organize similar events on the occasions of overseas motor shows to be held in Geneva, New York, Beijing and other locations. “Rome was not built in a day.” We understand that it is impossible to garner many Mazda fans in a short time. Believing that steady activities via such dialogues will eventually lead to establishing an emotional connection with many customers around the world, we will continue these endeavors.
*1 Held from October 30 to November 8, 2015
Striving to Become a Brand with a Personal Touch
[Tokyo Motor Show 2015]
Mazda participated in the Tokyo Motor Show 2015, where the Company offered visitors opportunities for direct dialogue with staff members, through a talk session, lecture and other programs. The Mazda booth was mainly staffed by engineers in charge of product development, rather than models. Mazda placed emphasis on ensuring that these staff members sincerely answered visitors’ questions, while expressing their enthusiasm and philosophy for making vehicles. For example, for a customer who had driven his beloved Roadster (MX-5 overseas) for over two decades, the staff explained how to better maintain his old vehicle, in addition to giving explanations about the new model displayed in the booth. Some visitors, including this man, posted reports on SNS sites, which helped Mazda’s attitude toward customers to gain attention.
Passion for Product Development Directly Conveyed Around the World
[Co-Creation Meetings: Creating Bonds with Overseas Group Companies and Distributors]
The co-creation meeting program offers opportunities for persons in charge of product development, design and production to go overseas to give presentations about new products before they are launched. At the co-creation meeting, members involved in developing and producing the product and those from the local distributors/dealerships exchange opinions to consider together how to proceed with the market introduction of a new product. Directly listening to the presentations of engineers involved in product development and production helps overseas companies to develop sales staff who can better explain to customers the features of the product and the aspirations behind it. For Head Office employees, the meetings serve as important opportunities to feel the enthusiasm of overseas dealerships and distributors directly, and reaffirm their pride in and responsibilities for creating a product.
Aiming to Make Mazda a Consistent Presence in Customers’ Lives
In Pursuit of Service that Provides Customers with an Outstanding Brand Experience
The duty of customer service related divisions is to provide customers with safe and secure ownership experiences, as professionals with maintenance knowledge and skills. Traditionally, we have made all-out efforts to train maintenance service staff and prepare easy-tounderstand service manuals, to ensure that reliable repair and maintenance services can be performed after customers had purchased vehicles.
However, in the course of promoting brand value management, and working together with sales, marketing and other related divisions to consider what kind of brand experience we should offer customers, we have become aware of many points to be addressed.
For example, the attitudes during repair work may differ according to the maintenance/repair service staff members. We noticed that whether they think that they are just fixing a vehicle or they regard the repair as an opportunity to offer a brand experience to the customer will make a difference, not only in the quality of maintenance, but also in terms of communication with customers.
This awareness has motivated us to review who should attend training programs when a new product is released. We are now expanding the scope of participants, who were previously all sales representatives, to include maintenance service staff members. In addition to the content of maintenance work, if the service staff members could explain about the structure and comfortable ride of the vehicles, and convey the aspirations of the engineers in charge of product development, our customers would be even more pleased.
Creating a Culture of Caring about Customer Touchpoints
New initiatives are also under way in areas other than maintenance service. One example is the distribution of owner’s manuals in digital format. In Japan, we have developed these electronic owner’s manuals that are accessible from various terminals, in order to render thick and wordy manuals more user-friendly. Also, these manuals reflect our hopes that customers can use Mazda vehicles more safely and with greater peace of mind, and that they can make fuller use of increasingly multifunctional devices.
In its Corporate Vision, Mazda stipulates it will “brighten people’s lives through car ownership.” Unlike products and advertisements, it is difficult for the area of customer services to convey a message in a visible manner. It is therefore all the more important to create and maintain bonds with customers through each and every touch point in our daily operations.
In the future we will continue diligent efforts to cultivate a culture and human resources that together ensure that members involved in customer services understand the importance of the philosophies and processes mentioned above, and that they can take good care of the touchpoints with customers.
Customer Service Division
Seeking to Improve Service Engineers’ Skills, including Customer Service Skills
[Service Skills Competitions]
Service Skills Competitions, in which service engineers compete in various skill categories including customer service skills, offer ideal opportunities for participants to improve their skills, against the backdrop of increasing demand for high-quality service. From 2015 to the summer of 2016, Mazda hosted regional competitions in various parts of the world, including North America, Central & South America, Asia and Oceania. The winners of these competitions will be brought together in the International Service Skills Competitions slated for 2017, which will decide the world’s best service engineer in the Mazda Group.
Making Customers Feel Close to Mazda Vehicles
[Electronic Owner’s Manual]
Mazda has developed an electronic manual for the Roadster (MX- 5 overseas), that is designed to be “intuitively searchable.” The on-line manual is equipped with various functions. Among them is Visual Search, with which users can rotate images of the vehicle’s exterior and interior by 360 degrees to select the portion they want to check. Search by Scene allows users to choose from among several occasions such as driving and operational scenes. When using Keyword Search, if you enter “ceiling” or “roof ” in Japanese into the search box, search results including “Soft Top” will appear. With these features, the manual has been wellreceived, winning four awards including Manual of the Year in the Japan Manual Contest 2015.