02 Feb 2017 | 04.26 pm
Engaging Stories Boost Mazda Appeal
Mazda's marketing evolves to experience-driven
02 Feb 2017 | 04.26 pm
Perfecting the already excellent fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 – winner of the 2016 World Car of the Year Award – was going to be a tricky one. Now for 2017 Mazda has launched the MX-5 RF (Retractable Fastback) at €31,495 for the 1.5-litre, rising to €36,995 for the 2.0-litre SKYATIVE-G 160hp GT.
Available in two specification grades, Mazda Ireland is aiming to shift around 50 units of the Hiroshima-built RF (pictured) during 2017. What makes the new RF so appealing for Irish buyers is that the folding hardtop roof provides all the benefits of coupe-like refinement along with the security of a hardtop when parked on the street.
The previous generation MX-5 offered the option of a similar structure but that shape aped the canvas roof of the Roadster. This time the roof leaves a full C-pillar structure in place with buttresses that take inspiration from the 1970s Jaguar XJS when folded.
When activated, the roof’s entire C-pillar structure along with rear window rises over the boot lid, while the main roof piece separates into two sections and fold down into the stowage area. Once in place the C-pillar structure lowers back down to reveal a MX-5 targa instead of a Roadster that opens and closes while travelling at speeds of up to 10km/h. It’s an ingenious operation and worthy of a car four times the price.
The RF is now available with Mazda’s bigger 2.0-litre engine – something we’ve been denied in the Roadster up to now. Granted, the 1.5-litre engine is sweeter but the larger powerplant complements the RF’s GT personality. Performance is improved with a 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds against the RF 1.5-litre engine managing 8.6 seconds.
Inside it’s typical MX-5 with quality materials, intuitive controls and perfect weighting for the steering and gearbox. Once on the move any concerns about the rear fixed fastback robbing all the fun are eliminated – you’re still exposed to 90 percent of the road smells and noise.
The MX-5 isn’t for everyone, though it certainly adds to the Mazda brand cachet. In an article on Marketing Dive, Chantal Tode notes that in its US marketing, Mazda focuses on a tightly targeted group of passionate drivers and weaving stories that create an emotional engagement.
At a presentation to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s recent annual Leadership Meeting, Russell Wagner, VP of Marketing at Mazda in America, reminded attendees that 75% of car shopping is done online. Mazda’s view is that success going forward is about more than shifting advertising budget from TV to digital. The brand also needs to be able to make an emotional connection.
“Our key challenge today is how to connect our products to an experience, an emotional value,” Wagner said. “What is the story that does this for the audience we want to reach? We set out to transform ourselves from company-centric marketing to consumer-centric marketing or more simply to be an experience provider. But how do we communicate that quickly and most effectively?”
According to Tode, the foundation of Mazda’s customer-centric approach is its targeting approach, which eschews demographics in favour of psychographics. This approach enables the brand to focus on customers who hold a series of attitudes towards driving that suggest they are passionate about the driving experience.
Mazda leverages the Oracle Data Management Platform to identify customers with the right psychographics and then find them across the web. One example of the new storytelling approach is a 30-second ad from 2015 that quickly moves through the many stages of one person’s life, showing different Mazda vehicles as part of each. The ad has close to 11 million views on YouTube.
Beyond digital video, Mazda recently used organic and native formats and inspirational pieces of content for the launch of its CX-9 SUV. Wagner says that Mazda is attracting 33% more of the customers that fit its desired psychographic profile than it was four years ago. “When you purchase a vehicle, other than a house, it is the single largest purchase you are going to make, so you want to know the family you are buying into.
“That is the story we have been trying to tell over the past several years — when you join the Mazda family by purchasing a car, you get to be in this semi-exclusive club. We are fine with the size we are. We want people to be happy.”