When news came out in 2009 that there would be an imminent split between erstwhile partners Ford and Mazda, top executives from the Japanese car manufacturer worked meticulously to come up with a new design direction for the company to help create its own personality and propel the brand to new heights. Thus in 2010, Mazda announced their new design direction named “Kodo – Soul of Motion” as well as their groundbreaking engine technology, SkyActiv. All these changes were to be implemented in all upcoming Mazda products beginning 2011.
Kodo captures the very instant energy becomes motion – which is described as the muscular beauty one sees when an animal pounces, or when a human leaps into action. And this design philosophy was well executed by the Mazda designers and presented through the five-point grille, defining bodylines and powerful stance on all upcoming Mazda vehicles. SkyActiv, meanwhile, is a series of technologies developed by Mazda, which increases fuel efficiency and power output—involving engines, transmissions, body and chassis.
From 2011 onwards, the “Kodo – Soul of Motion” design direction and SkyActiv technology has shaped the dynamic style of Mazda2, 3, 6, CX-5, CX-9, CX-3 and even the BT-50 pick-up truck. Kodo and SkyAktiv proved to be very successful as customers became fascinated with its distinctive design and impressive technology, enabling the brand to grow leaps and bounds. In 2009, Mazda’s year on year global-sales was a measly 885,226 units. After the new design direction and new SkyActiv technology were implemented, Mazda sales steadily rose, year after year, and in 2015 peaked at 1.416 million.
During the recent Mazda Asean Media Forum held in Japan, Mazda announced that in order to further develop the success of their design and technology, they came up with the “Kizuna” program to enrich the Mazda ownership experience. In Japanese, Kizuna means the special bond between people. With the new program, Mazda aims to build a relationship with its customers, both old and new, starting from the “before buying experience,” “buying experience” and “ownership experience.” The loyalty of customers to the brand is rewarded by personalized service, exclusive privileges to events, and special packages for products, services and promotions.
New experience for buyers
In building Kizuna with its customers, Mazda expanded its way of extending hospitality to its valued clients by adding a new experience for its customers. Aside from the “before buying experience,” “buying experience” and “ownership experience,” Mazda added the “retire from driving experience” wherein the company aims to keep customers part of the Mazda family even after they have stopped driving. Their goal here is to form that special bond so that even after ownership, the customer will buy another Mazda unit.
In the Philippines, part of the Kizuna process is in Mazda’s Yojin-3 program. Yojin-3 is an expanded ownership program wherein all new Mazda vehicles comes with free periodic maintenance service (cost of parts and labor included) for three years, free road-side assistance for three years, and free bumper-to-bumper warranty for three years. This value-added experience is a first of its kind in the automotive industry and is exclusive to Mazda. The program also provides free concierge service that helps in getting access to the latest movies and restaurants, as well as the most convenient appointment for having their Mazda units serviced.
Taking the Kizuna process to the next level, Mazda is investing a considerable amount of money to put up a centralized parts delivery hub to ensure the steady supply of parts for its customers—especially those from the Southeast Asian region, who require more frequent maintenance procedures because of perennial traffic congestion, flooding and overloading. With most of the SkyAktiv vehicles being modular, the different models share the same part, which makes it more affordable.
In line with this, Mazda has also developed a modular diagnostic system that will electronically check all the vital functions of any Mazda unit. Since the system is modular, one unit can diagnose any Mazda SkyAktive model. The system will also contain digitized wiring diagrams and schematics to make servicing much faster.
At the same time, Mazda is also developing an onboard diagnostics system that will be integrated with the car’s infotainment system. Aside from having the “owner’s manual” loaded into the computer, the onboard diagnostics system will provide step-by-step trouble shooting techniques in case of problems.
It is obvious how Mazda has exponentially grown the affection for their brand through dynamic design and smart technologies. And now, with continuous development of their cars coupled with its evolving customer-focused programs, it is sure to generate a big number of Mazda advocates far into the future.