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Mazda pushes to grow market share

Gimme 3: Mazda’s top-seller is the Mazda3, but don’t expect the car-maker to take the overall sales crown from Toyota any time soon.

Ten per cent market share just the beginning but Mazda not looking to beat Toyota

18 Apr 2016

MAZDA’S 10 per cent share of the Australian new-vehicle market is “not enough” according to the executive responsible for the region, but the brand has no plans to topple Toyota from the top sales position.

So far this year Mazda has managed to grab a 10.7 per cent market share with 30,449 sales, up from the 10.2 per cent and 28,280 sales at the same point last year.

The Japanese car-maker ended 2015 with a 9.9 per cent share and a record haul of 114,024 units, ensuring it retained its place as the second best-selling brand in the country behind the dominant Toyota which captured a 17.8 per cent share and 206,236 sales.

Mazda Motor Corporation senior managing executive officer in charge of Asia and Oceania Yuji Nakamine said one way for the car-maker to “move ahead” and grow the brand was to try an appeal to buyers looking in the premium segment.

“I hear in this market and maybe in Europe, premium brands are coming down in terms of price point,” he said at the opening of Mazda Australia’s new headquarters in Melbourne’s south-east late last week.

“It’s ideal for us if customers cross-shop between Mazda as a Japanese brand and maybe European premiums. If we see that kind of trend, I see opportunity there, and we can upgrade our brand image to European premium.

“We shouldn’t rush to the positioning, but we should continue to improve our quality of the vehicle’s styling and technology so that customers feel very comfortable … buying Mazda as a kind of alternative to European premium. If we can do that, it is fantastic and really consistent (with) Mazda’s strategy.”

Mr Nakamine said it was possible to push into the premium sector, while looking at growing its overall volume and added that the two things were not mutually exclusive.

“I think we have to find a good balance between volume and brand image. We are at 10 per cent market share. Is that too big? I don’t think so. As long as we produce affordable, nice looking and high-tech vehicles, I am sure many people want to buy Mazda.

“We are careful about volume versus brand image but still, 10 per cent is not enough in my mind. I am sure there are a lot of customers out there in the market that are looking for a good product.”

 center imageLeft: Mazda Motor Corporation senior managing executive officer in charge of Asia and Oceania Yuji Nakamine.While the company is determined to continue growing its volume, Mazda Australia sales director Vinesh Bhindi would not be drawn on how far beyond 114,000 annual sales it can achieve Down Under.

“That will depend on the market,” he said. “Our advisors say there is going to be steady growth. It also depends on what our competition do. The three brands manufacturing here (GM Holden, Ford and Toyota), yes they will stop, but they will have replacement vehicles produced in other countries.

“It is really hard to plan out that our market share will be at this (particular) level. It is a little bit of an unknown. We plan based on what products we will get out of Mazda Corporation, what segments we can cover and what opportunities we have. We are very happy with where we are. I think there will be a little bit more opportunity in the short term, but longer term, I think we will just have to wait and see what opportunities come up.”

Mr Bhindi said that the company was not targeting the number one spot on the Australian sales chart and was instead focused on securing the best product and ensuring the business is strong.

“With our current portfolio we cover all segments, it doesn’t mean we will end up being number one. It is not something we put as a goal to be number one, we look at products, opportunity and a good business model.”

Mr Nakamine reiterated Mr Bhindi’s comments, adding that Toyota’s strong fleet sales kept it well ahead of other brands, while Mazda was working on continually improving its brand image.

“Toyota is very strong in fleet business. The issue is, to overcome Toyota is maybe a stretch in my opinion. We are trying to focus on retail so that our customers will not be disappointed about the brand image and resale value of Mazda vehicles. Frankly speaking, targeting Toyota as number one business brand is not really something I am desperately pursuing at this moment.

“We have to conquer the good customers from the market, maybe from other brands. But at the same time we should not disappoint the Mazda customers who bought and enjoy Mazda products so we have to be very careful.”

Mazda has experienced rapid growth in Australia in the past decade on the back of product that local consumers have embraced, strong branding and highly regarded aftersales and customer service.

Mazda took the JD Power Customer Service Index crown from Toyota in 2013 and followed it up by achieving the best result out of the mainstream brands in Australia in 2014, but was pipped at the post last year by Honda.

The company’s market share has risen from 3.5 per cent and 27,505 sales in 2000 to 6.7 per cent and 66,520 in 2005, before hitting 8.2 per cent and 84,777 units in 2010.

The Japanese car-maker leapfrogged Holden last year to take second spot on the sales charts for the first time.

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