In the grand scheme of global automakers, Mazda is hardly a large player. The brand currently enjoys a small 2 percent market share in the U.S., but Mazda’s North American chief tells Automotive News the company isn’t really seeking additional share. Instead, Mazda wants to creep upmarket to boost margins across their business.
Masahiro Moro has worked at Mazda his whole life, but was put in charge of the company’s North American operations in January 2016. His primary task is to implement a decade-long strategy the company refers to as “Mazda Premium.” The strategy has a few goals, but is primarily focused on achieving a “good” 2 percent market share.
What exactly is “good” share? Well, Moro put the definition in his own words to Automotive News:
“A good 2 percent means our dealer network becomes profitable and becomes sustainable, with brand in mind and customer experience in mind. That is the foundation for us to reach the first gate,” he said.
Basically Mazda is wanting to creep upmarket without saying that they’re going for a full-on luxury brand image. The logic behind the move is to boost margins both for dealerships and the company, although Moro’s comments suggest dealership profitability is the biggest initial concern in the Mazda Premium strategy execution.
In addition, Moro also has the goal of boosting Mazda’s buyer loyalty in the U.S. Mazda has increased their buyer retention rate from 30 percent in 2011 to 39 percent last year. While that’s good, Moro is seeking a loyalty rate higher than 50 percent.
Asked if Mazda would cut any nameplates from its lineup to accommodate shifting consumer preferences away from sedans to crossovers and SUVs, Moro said that’s not on the table. He went on to reference the fact Mazda recently killed the Mazda2 sub-compact and Mazda5 in favor of the CX-3 SUV, suggesting Mazda feels its lineup is in good shape.