Suzuki Samurai Case Study1


Published on

Case study on Strategic Marketing : Suzuki Samurai

Published in: Education, Business, Sports
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Suzuki Samurai Case Study1

  1. 1. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Course: Strategic Marketing (EMB620) Prepared By ..... Submitted To Dr. Riad Mahmud North South University Submitted on 27th September 2009
  2. 2. Table of Contents Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  3. 3. Preface As a part of a case study of Strategic Marketing (EMB-620) Course, this formal repot has been prepared. The whole report covers on the case analysis of the positioning strategy of Suzuki’s new entrant into the U.S. automobile market with the Suzuki Samurai brand. All the analysis & explanation have been written in this report on the basis of the provided case information. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  4. 4. 1. What is Suzuki’s marketing strategy in the U.S? To meet the dynamic market demand, Suzuki changes its policy many times. At first they entered in the US market as exporter of a single product (only motor cycle) with vertical integration. In 1964 Suzuki began exporting motorcycles to the United States where it established a wholly owned subsidiary, U.S Suzuki Motor Company, Ltd., to serve as the exclusive importer and distributor of Suzuki motorcycles. Then it began to export multi products and out sources its one brand: In 1983, General Motors (GM) purchase 5% of Suzuki and helped the company a subcompact car for the US market. The car, named Chevrolet Sprint, was the first entry into the continental US automobile market. GM's success with Sprint showed Suzuki that a market existed for its cars in the continental of United States. Then Suzuki (The always something different car company) planned to introduce several unique vehicles into the US market over time. Suzuki had no guarantee that GM would be willing to market the vehicles. Therefore, Suzuki decided to establish its own presence in U.S automobiles industry. SELECTIVE DISTRIBUTION: Suzuki’s goal was to establish itself as a major car company in U.S. To achieve this goal, Mazaa, Vice President of ASMC (American Suzuki Motor Corporation), adopted the step of Convincing prospective dealers to build separate showrooms for the Samurai. Then he designed a dealer agreement that required prospective Samurai dealers to build an exclusive sales facility for the Samurai. The facility had to include a showroom, sales offices, customer walking and accessory display area. Service and parts could share a facility with a dealer’s other car lines, but a minimum of two service stalls need to be dedicated to Suzuki, which had to be operated by Suzuki-trained mechanics. Required dealership to display specific signs and outside the sales office and in the service stalls. A minimum of three sales people , two service technicians, one General manager and one general office clerk had to be dedicated to the Suzuki dealership. The bold points above are illustrating the fact that the company followed the selective distribution (close to exclusive distribution). It allowed the company to achieve higher profitability, dealer loyalty, greater sales support and also higher degree of control over the retail market. PRICING POLICY FOR DEALERS: Price is the only marketing variable that generates revenue. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  5. 5. Though it is close to exclusive distribution that is characterized by high margin, high profit and low volume, Mazza adopted with an opposite view. The company aimed to gain market response for its high quality with low price advantage. Thus their strategy was to sell high volume with low profit margin. Engage a strong dealership bigger than traditional based on the belief that quick dealer profitability would be key to success—as a dealer’s sales opportunities grew, so too would the financial commitment and overhead. Dealerships selected with trading areas that encompassed zip codes with high concentrations of households that fell into Suzuki’s target market. Cost efficient product (almost half the traditional one) to attract & catch the customer quickly. Focus on early entry (Before Hyundai Motor Company of South Korea and Zavodi Crvena Zastava (Yugo) of Yugoslavia,) Introduce several unique vehicles into the U.S (the always something different car company) Establishing its own presence in the U.S automobile industry for independence (collaboration with GM is not guaranteed to continue) NEW PRODUCT DESIGN: (SJ413) for customer attractiveness & product modification for overcoming import barrier for big quantities. Chose to introduce the Samurai into California, the nation’s largest automobile market, and Florida and Georgia, where Japanese import sales were higher then the U.S. average PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION: To grab different market segment by two different products, a convertible and a hard-top. 2. What are the three major positioning options (as per industry practice) according to a vehicle’s physical characteristics? What are the pros and cons of positioning the Samurai in each of these segments individually? Before Suzuki could enlist dealers, it had to decide how to position the Samurai to consumers. The position it chose would help define the vehicle’s target market which, in turn, would influence ASMC’s preferred dealer locations. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  6. 6. POSITIONING STRATEGY: Positioning is placing a brand in that particular part of the market where it will receive a favorable reception compared to competing products. From the point of view of Leonard Pearlstein, president and CEO of keye/ donna/ pearlstein advertising agency, positioning is," The unique way we want prospects to think about a product." Douglas Mazza, VP of ASMC wanted a fresh approach for his company's new product. So he gave the responsibility to that advertising agency, which had no experience in developing campaign for automobiles. After accepting the offer, Pearlstein and his associates scanned the industry practice for automobile advertising. They found out that the industry practice was to position vehicles according to their physical characteristics. They also found out that most advertising was feature/ benefit or price oriented. Based on its physical characteristics, the major three positioning options for Samurai SJ413 were as follows:  Position as a compact sport utility vehicle.  Position as a compact pickup truck  Position as a subcompact car. The pros and cons of positioning the samurai in each of these segments individually are given below: COMPACT SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE: The most obvious position for the samurai is as a sport utility vehicle. It looked like a "mini- jeep" and had 4-wheel drive capability. PROS:  The features matched exactly with the attributes of compact sport utility vehicle.  Designed to drive well off road.  Positioning as a sport utility vehicle is consistent with the samurai's heritage.  The Samurai was smaller and lighter than the other vehicles.  Praising of foreign owners because of samurai's reliability. It had the ability to go anywhere where larger vehicles could not.  Ease of repair. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  7. 7.  Smaller and lighter than the other vehicles.  Its price and size made it distinct from all other sport utility vehicles in the U.S. market. It was sold below the price of the other vehicles. Its $5,995 suggested retail price was well below the other vehicles’ $10,000 to $13,000 price range.  Thus the positioning of Samurai as sport utility vehicle solely concentrated on the low price and its ability to squeeze through places where bigger vehicles could not go. It needed to be advertised as a “Tough little cheap Jeep." CONS:  There seemed to be a problem of whether the positioning could generate the envisioned sales volume.  The market for sport utility vehicle was relatively small. In 1984 it was less than 3% in the U.S market. The goal was to build as annual sales of 30,000 units within 2 years of its introduction. To achieve this it was required to exceed the combined 1984 sales of all imported sport vehicles. COMPACT PICKUP TRUCK: The second option, positioning the Samurai is as a compact pickup truck. PROS:  It would tap a market two and one-half times the size of that for compact sport utility vehicles.  It had the advantage that Japanese trucks sold well in the U.S accounting for 54% of total 1984 compact pickup trucks.  It had the high level of US consumer’s acceptance.  The Samurai could be used as a truck when purchased without back seat or when its back seat was folded up.  The price was set at the retail price to keep it in comparison with Japanese imported trucks. Thus the positioning strategy would only indicate uniformity with other truck prices but rather uphold a serious, practical, male-targeted tough truck. CONS: Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  8. 8. To penetrate as a new company, price is one of the factors to attract customers. But it did not have any price advantage over other similar cars. SUBCOMPACT CAR: The third option is to position the Samurai as a subcompact car. Samurai advertising copy should emphasize the vehicle’s looks. The message to consumer would be “Why buy a Toyota Tercel or a Nissan Sentra when, with the same amount of money, you can buy a much cuter vehicle, the Samurai? PROS:  Positioning the Samurai as a subcompact car would open up the largest of the three possible markets.  A trend had been developed that professional like lawyers, doctors drove it to their offices leaving their Mercedes at home.  The Samurai boasted an average 28 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, was priced lower than many subcompact cars, and offered more versatility. Those who were shopping for an economy car could consider it. Thus the positioning strategy should give emphasis upon looks and style of the car. CONS:  If it was positioned as a car then it might not meet the expectations of the consumers because the Samurai was built on a truck platform, its ride was stiffer and less comfortable than the least-expensive subcompact cars 3. What are the pros and cons of the “Un-positioning” strategy? UNPOSITIONING STRATEGY: Un-positioning is just the opposite of positioning. It is offering a single product to the entire market. Each person can define the product in his or her owns way and can rationalize the purchase decision in his or he owns terms. Pearlstein Ad agency suggests that Samurai SJ 413 Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  9. 9. should be un-positioned in the market to cover all three possible segments; compact sport utility vehicle, compact pickup truck and subcompact car. ADVANTAGES OF UNPOSITIONING: Larger Target Customers: Due to un-positioning Suzuki Samurai American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) gets the opportunity to target the entire potential consumers segment. The Un-positioned Suzuki Samurai will appeal the users of pick up truck, subcompact cars and sports utility vehicle. That ensures higher consumer acceptance by offering a car for various needs. Customer satisfaction: If each consumer is allowed to personally define the Samurai, this would lead to greater similarity between the vehicle's promise and its delivery if Suzuki told customers what the Samurai was; by clearly defining the image of the vehicle. Higher Profitability: As un-positioning will target a larger customer segments, it will definitely increase sales and thus add larger profit to the company's income statement also. Thus this strategy is perfectly compatible with company's goal that is to establish ASMC as a major car company in the US. Threat to Competitors: Un-positioning will offer a car with different purpose. It will also serve the purpose of versatile transportation. The broader appeal of the car can reduce its competitor’s sales and thus can guarantee sales more than 6000 units in the first six months. So, in the mean time, competitors' sales might deteriorate. DISADVANTAGES OF UNPOSITIONING: Losing of present Customers: Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  10. 10. Suzuki Samurai already had its brand appeal as a rugged utility vehicle in Canada. The stylish looking little jeep along with its stylish looks made the car popular as the utility jeep to handle driving in rain, snow and off-road. The jeep is popular for going to fishing, camping and skiing. So, if other consumers start to use it as subcompact car or pick up truck, it will lose its brand image. It might also happen that the present consumers might reject the jeep with different appeals. Thus losing customers will be a greater loss. Loosing Potential Market: The other possibility is if Samurai SJ 413 could try to be the niche in the "Tough-Little-Cheap Jeep" segment they might land up as a market leader in that particular segment. So, the company needs to sacrifice the possibility of being number one in the niche market by accepting the "Un-positioning" strategy. Trouble for the Sales People: Due to un-positioning strategy sales people will suffer for explaining the various use of the car and it will be difficult for them to emphasize upon one particular need to the buyers. If two buyers with different perceptions contact one salesman at a time, the salesman need to be expert enough to sell two cars for two different reasons at one single time. Increased Confusion: Confusion will arise among consumers if Suzuki avoid positioning. People usually use vehicles that they feel as the car for their own convenient. So, when they see that the car is also meant for different segment of people, obviously they will be confused. Thus sales might dropped out. The advertising agency wanted the car to be positioned as "antidote to traditional transportation" and thought an "alternative to small-car-boredom". Therefore, un-positioning could therefore attract buyers from all three-vehicle segments. But, in the long run the company needs to highlight a more specific need to motivate the consumers to purchase Samurai SJ 413. 4. What strategy would you recommend for the Suzuki Samurai in the U.S? Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  11. 11. RECOMMENDED STRATEGY: In recommending the strategies for Suzuki Samurai in USA, we are going to suggest some comments about some of the strategic issues. These are as follows:  Market Targeting  Positioning  Relationship  Distribution  Pricing  Promotion and  Advertising MARKET TARGETING: Suzuki wants its Samurai to sell extensively in the US market. So to target market it should follow extensive targeting strategy. The car should not be for any specific Suzuki's Marketing Strategy in the U.S. segment but for all who needs a car. It will maximize the sales of the car and thus will increase revenue and profit. Moreover, it is likely to build customer awareness and eagerness to buy a Samurai in every potential car buyer. There are less risk as the research showed that there is huge demand for the earlier model and the market was preferring the Japanese vehicle as they were ensured about the quality of Japanese product and these vehicles were economical (Both mileage and price). POSITIONING: Three alternatives, including sport utility vehicle, compact pick-up truck, and a subcompact car, are mentioned earlier to position Samurai among the clients but research shows that customers perceive the car in different ways. To achieve higher market share and sales it will be unwise for Suzuki to impose any perception on consumers mind. And that is why it should avoid positioning the Samurai as a specific type of vehicle so as not to exclude large groups of potential buyers. From the research the agency found out that a young or young-at-heart person is a prospect for Samurai. Any sport utility buyer can be attracted by just looking at the vehicle, it can be perceived as an alternative to dull automobiles for small-car buyers and small truck purchaser were buying them to use as cars than import subcompact cars. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  12. 12. Although there are disadvantages regarding un-positioning the car but the 80-20 rule is more applicable here. As the vehicle has every characteristic to attract every possible market segment, adoption from any of the segments would get the job done. CUSTOMER SERVICE STRATEGY: Customer Service strategy should also be planned among the organizations, dealers and customers. In the modern world of business it is very hard for a single organization to run with the technology, financial constraint, access to market etc alone. So, Suzuki should take measures to build strategic alliance with potential companies in US. Relationship among dealers and customers are also important. Customer satisfaction and after sales services are two major issues that can play effective role in positive attitude and perception towards Samurai’s success. BRANDING: As Samurai is a new product in the market it should build a strong brand image among the potential customers. The matter to consider is Suzuki, the maker of Samurai, is not new in the market and already it has a place in customers mind. The strategy that Suzuki should take is to make efficient use of that identity to make the new brand stable and reliable. DISTRIBUTION: Suzuki can go for vertical integration system for distribution. Vertical Integration dominates the retailing sector. A primary feature of it is the management of the distribution channel by one organization. The firm that is the channel manager directs programming and coordination of channel activities and functions. Operating rules and guidelines indicate the functions of responsibilities of each participant. Management assistance and services are supplied to the participating organizations by the firm that is the channel leader. ASMC can also practice competitive channel strategy simultaneously to increase sales of Samurai. Addition intensive may be offered to sell certain numbers of Samurai to each dealer in this regard. PRICING: As Suzuki already fixes price of the Samurai, there is very low option to offer any pricing strategy for this car. But still price can be used in various ways in the marketing program positioning strategy. These are: Price may be used as a signal to buyer because the price of Samurai is visible to the buyer and provides a basis of comparison between brands. It may be used to position the brand as a high-quality product at a less price. It may be used as an instrument of competition. In the US market all of the similar cars are selling at $8000 - $13000 while Samurai is priced at $5995. So, undoubtedly it is a competitive factor. It may be used to improve financial performance of the company also. And productivity, expansion, investment etc. mostly depends on financial Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  13. 13. performance. The low price of the Samurai can be used as penetration pricing strategy to capture greater share of the market. Penetration pricing reflects a long-term perspective in which short-term profits are sacrificed in order to establish sustainable competitive advantage. At the same time Samurai can enjoy the advantages of one-price strategy also that includes administrative convenience, easier pricing process etc. PROMOTION AND ADVERTISING: The advertising and promotion budget of ASMC for the first six month is $2.5 million. Typically an automobile manufacturer spent 77% of its advertising dollars on television ads, 10% on print ads, and 3% on highway billboards. The print ads were to run in both general-interest magazines and enthusiast magazines. To establish Samurai as a car of customers' perception, a comprehensive/integrated promotion strategy is badly required. The objective of this strategy for Samurai should be as follows:  Creating or increasing buyer awareness of the car Influencing buyer attitude toward the company Suzuki and the brand Samurai.  Achieving increases in sales and market share for specific customer or prospect target.  Generating repeat purchase of the car.  Encouraging trial of the car.  Attracting new customers with existing Suzuki clients.  Encouraging long term relationship. Suzuki should follow the integrated marketing communication to integrate the promotion tools because, marketing communication programs are comprehensive. Advertising, personal selling, publicity, direct marketing, sales promotion are all considered in the planning of marketing communication. The messages delivered by all media are the same or supportive of a unified theme. Marketing communication programs are targeted. The public relation programs, advertising programs, and dealer/distributor programs all have the same or related target markets. Marketing communication programs coordinated execution of all the communication components of the organization. Suzuki may also apply sales promotion activities to the following groups to achieve its goal of selling designated number of Samurai. These are:  Promotion to consumer targets: consumers may be offered free servicing for certain time period, or some gifts with the purchase. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii
  14. 14.  Promotion to industrial/sports team target: Discounts may be given for big orders from such organizations.  Promotion to channel members: Intensive or bonus may be announced to the channel members for selling certain number of vehicles. Case Study on Suzuki Samurai Page ii