Yamaha Celebrates Big 50

LAS VEGAS - Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, celebrated its 50th Anniversary here with the largest dealer party in its history. The show included close to 50 historic motorcycles and ATVs, a lineup of past racing champions and several new models.
But perhaps the most interesting news was Yamaha's discussion of its three-pronged approach to targeting specific customer markets. While the operations side won't change, Yamaha has arranged products in three groups organized by customer interest: Star motorcycles, Outdoor and Sport.
“Although there are many different types of customers, we've found they basically fit into one of three groups,” said Dennis McNeal, vice president of Yamaha Motorsports. Here's how Yamaha defines its three target audience groups:
n Outdoor users want the toughest vehicle they can get. Reliability and dependability are very important, and it has to be available for work or play.
- Sport enthusiasts want to dominate, whether on dirt or pavement or the track or just around town.
- Cruiser customers want style, emotion and the ability to personalize their product. That's one reason why the new cruiser family of Stratoliners and Roadliners has only a small name badge on the air cleaner. The Yamaha name appears in small type on the rear fender.
“As customers are becoming more discriminating and more demanding of attention, we feel it's our job to better position our products to the customer and the dealer, too,” Bob Starr, Yamaha director of communications, said in an interview with Powersports Business.
The cruiser rider is substantially different from the YZ rider, points out Star, and that difference has to be addressed in corporate communications and dealer services.
“This (marketing) approach helps us position ourselves better and better serve the customer,” Starr said.
In other news from the meeting, Yamaha:
- Introduced Akiro Sano, the new president of Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, who was named to that spot this spring. Sano told dealers that Yamaha is emphasizing a “customer-centric” approach to the development of Yamaha products in the United States. The “consumer-centric” approach involves focusing on the Yamaha customer from the beginning of new product development to servicing the customer at each dealership. This approach is being used in developing new products and marketing to specific customer segments. “We need to meet the customers where they live, and live up to their expectations, every time they look to us,” he told dealers.
- Launched two new retail programs: The Purchase First incentive program and the Ride First test ride plan. The programs are designed “to get enthusiastic, influential riders on (Star motorcycles),” and talking up their values, said Dennis McNeal, vice president of Yamaha Motorsports.
- Stepped up its Internet activities, including helping dealers with the design of their web sites and links to dealership home pages through Yamaha's web site. Soon the company will be adding links to dealer accessory e-commerce sites through the Yamaha dealer locator.

- Joe Delmont

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