Mazda is taking its 'defy convention' mind-set to new levels with marketing director Claire Andrews pioneering changes to the Mazda retail experience to bring it in-line with modern car buying behaviour.
Nearly all customers will have done their research online before setting foot inside a dealer showroom yet the industry’s approach to selling doesn’t always reflect this, Andrews believes.
To make sure it does, Andrews and her team are concentrating on three key areas of the e-retailing experience as part of Mazda’s ‘Retailing with Pride’ initiative being rolled out from the New Year.
The first is new dealer websites from 2012, designed to make it easier and quicker for customers to find the right car, said Andrews.
Latest industry research shows that more than 51 percent of all buyers now shop online.1 In light of this, Mazda is embarking on a strategy which will see all Mazda dealers introduce a common website template alongside a range of web-based sales and marketing solutions, covering everything from e-commerce for Mazda parts and accessories, to a used vehicle locator where consumers can search all Mazda’s used vehicle stock in the UK.
The idea is that the customer’s buying experience – from Mazda’s manufacturer website to the dealer websites and mobile searches– is engaging and delivers a consistent brand image and message.
The second is a significant investment in mobile media. “About one in five customers use a mobile phone when in the showroom to check prices - whether they are buying an accessory or a used car,” said Andrews. “More importantly, one in three searches on a smart phone are local2, so the significance of dealer mobile sites has never been stronger, particularly as this trend continues to grow,” she explained.
The third, and arguably the biggest consideration on the horizon for the ‘Retailing with Pride’ initiative, is Mazda’s plan to pilot tablets – such as Apple’s iPad – for sales staff. Andrews wants a pilot scheme to test the idea because it will put the sales team much closer to customers.
“Instead of sitting behind a desk, swivelling the screen occasionally, they can move around the dealership next to the customer showing them used car stock if it’s not on display and even upcoming models,” explained Andrews. “I really want to put customers at the heart of what we do.”
The developments come as excitement builds towards the launch next spring of the all-new Mazda CX-5 compact crossover which is set to become a technology benchmark for the industry thanks to it all-new SKYACTIV engines, transmissions and lightweight construction.
“The CX-5 is the best example of how Mazda continues to defy convention,” said Andrews. “It’s something we have done since cars like the Cosmo Sport in 1967, the first rotary engine. When people said sports cars were dead we launched the MX-5 in 1990, a lightweight two-seater sports car, which went on to become the world’s best-selling two-seater roadster. We have a proven track record of how we defy convention and our sixth generation cars will continue to do that.”