Mazda's make meeting Friday focused on work to move the brand upscale as sales slipped last year. Here are some takeaways from Jim Bagan, vice chairman of the Mazda National Dealer Advisory Council and vice president of the Roger Beasley Automotive Group in Austin, Texas.
- Dealers want a continuation of the move to more emotional advertising: "If there's one thing we believe is the missing ingredient in our marketing, it's triggering that emotional reaction in the consumer."
- The CX-5 diesel signals a more upscale feel to the brand and is not hurt by Volkswagen's diesel scandal: "I think the diesel customers appreciate the engine. It also enhances our brand," given that premium automakers are rolling out diesel crossovers and SUVs.
- The new CX-9 is selling better after a somewhat slow rollout: "The best part is, it's not a product issue," said Bagan. "Based on the last 60 days' momentum, it's starting to hit its stride and expectations."
- The yearly update to models (as opposed to the traditional midcycle freshening) is a positive: "I think what this does is it allows a car to come to market, and then as you see consumers' wants or tastes or habits changing, we can stay more current with that market."