The Mazda Evolution: Brand Awareness Driving Sales

Compete, Inc. Original Research

Mazda’s Evolution

For Many years, Mazda has had a relatively distinctive image in the U.S.  It is often seen as the sportiest of the Japanese brands, fostered by its participation Mazda is evolving in an effort to drive sales.  To set the stage, Compete used several of its automotive metrics, which leverage its industry-leading panel size and patented normalization techniques.

Keeping Zoom, Adding WPP

Mazda has recently adopted a new styling direction and also has changed ad agencies—shifting to WPP’s Team Mazda.  Despite the agency change, Mazda is sticking with Zoom-Zoom.  That appears to have been a safe move, based on results of a Compete survey.  Survey results show that consumers associated Zoom-Zoom with Mazda far more than with any other brand (consumers were simply asked to associate Zoom-Zoom with an auto brand).

automotive brand zoom-zoom mazda

Driving Sales

Awareness is one element of the digital purchase funnel.  A few rungs down are shopping and ultimately purchase.  Compete assessed how shoppers and conversion of shoppers to buyers together generated sales for Mazda in 2010.

In 2010, Mazda’s best month for shoppers was May, when it had 162,000 in-market shoppers.  Conversion (the ratio of sales to shoppers and akin to a close rate) was relatively flat from April to October, so sales in that period were driven largely by changes in demand.  In contrast, sales in March and December were conversion driven.  High conversion is typically equated with sales events, higher or new incentives, and aggressive dealers.  Indeed, the December lift in conversion is something Compete has seen market-wide for years.  Mazda’s December sales of 21,479 units came on the combination of 119,000 shoppers and 18.1% conversion.  But how was Mazda’s December compared to rivals?

mazda shoppers conversion sales bar graph

Driving December Sales

As noted above, sales are driven by the number of shoppers and the ability to convert shoppers to buyers.  The chart below shows the combinations of shoppers and conversion that yielded December sales for Mazda and several other brands.  The average for the brands shown was 232,000 shoppers and 31.1% conversion.

Consumers know Zoom-Zoom is Mazda’s, yet Mazda was on the lower end of shopper volumes and trailed brands shown on conversion.  Hyundai’s conversion was only slightly better, though Hyundai in general had very tight stocks in 2010 (lack of vehicles on the ground inhibits conversion) and still posted best-ever US sales results.  Subaru, VW, and Mazda had comparable shopper volumes, but their higher conversion yielded more sales.

mazda shoppers conversions sales automotive

data sales mazda automotive

Next Steps

If Mazda met its December sales goals, it can enjoy and focus on 2011.  If not, there are several logical next steps to investigate:


  • How does Mazda’s share of shoppers market-wide and among rivals compare with its share of voice?
  • How did Mazda shopper volumes track by model (i.e., were there stars and laggards)?
  • To what extent did Mazda shoppers cross-shop brands with higher conversion—including those not shown (such as Ford)


  • Were Mazda incentives competitive with rivals on a unit basis?
  • Were any highly-shopped Mazda models in short supply?
  • How efficient were Mazda incentives (dollars spent per conversion point)?
  • To what extent are some Mazda December shoppers buying in January?
About JackieODowd:
Jackie is a marketing consultant for Compete with over 10 years client service and consulting experience in automotive, travel and youth marketing. Jackie holds a Master’s from Northwestern University in Integrated Marketing Communications and has been part of the Compete team for longer than she can remember. When she isn’t writing for Compete, Jackie spends her time running around after her kids, sampling organic wines and pondering life’s questions like…’can I throw this away without anyone noticing?’ You can connect with Jackie on LinkedIn or Twitter.