Yamaha explains market approach for 2007 – July 24, 2006

LAS VEGAS — Japan’s Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. sold approximately 3.85 million two-wheelers and 261,000 ATVs worldwide in 2005. For 2006, the company plans worldwide sales of 4.55 million motorcycles and 274,000 ATVs.
While much of that growth likely will be achieved in Southeast Asia, India and South America, the United States accounts for about 32 percent of Yamaha Motor’s net sales. According to Yamaha documents, the company sold about 223,000 two-wheelers and 182,000 ATVs in North America last year.
At Yamaha Motor Corp. USA’s recent dealer meeting, held here June 25-26 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Spa, Takashi Kajikawa, president of Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd., told dealers the United States is among the most important markets for Yamaha.
Kajikawa described the U.S. motorcycle market as “strong,” spurred mainly by large displacement street models. In the ATV business, he said Yamaha sales were flat in the U.S. last year, challenged by decreased demand and intensified competition. However, sales of side-by-side vehicles have been increasing and continue to be promising.
Kajikawa’s comments here concerning the U.S. mirrored statements he made in the beginning of the year, when he said Yamaha’s plans for the U.S. will focus on creating high added value, securing a larger market share, and attaining high profitability with large displacement machine sales.
Last year, Yamaha Motor celebrated its 50th anniversary and initiated its new medium-term management plan, “NEXT50-Phase II.” As part of the plan, Kajikawa said, the company has been implementing a strategy of balancing value, profitability and growth.
“Our approach involves strengthening product competitiveness, promoting high value-added marketing to differentiate Yamaha from its competitors, and enhancing area marketing to improve regional market share,” he said.
To achieve Yamaha’s corporate goal, officials of Yamaha Motor Corp. USA said the goal in the United States for the coming year is to “make the customer No. 1.”
“The meeting this year focuses on the most important aspect of our business: the rider,” Yamaha Corporate Communications Division Manager Bob Starr told assembled dealers. “It’s all about getting close to our customers.”
Dennis McNeal, vice president of motorcycle operations, announced a number of initiatives the manufacturer has planned to achieve its goal.
He told dealers Yamaha plans to reform the motorsports national dealer council to improve communications with the dealer network; begin surveying 100 percent of customers, up from 40 percent, asking about everything from the sales process to follow-up service; and begin further customer support training.
Already operating in a nearly just-in-time fashion with its inventory, Yamaha also plans to further the ordering process in an effort to diminish slow-moving stock and improve the availability of previously hard-to-come-by products.
“We have over 1,000 dealerships in the United States and as always, profitability for each of them is key,” McNeal told Powersports Business during a previous interview. “The balance of supply of each of our product lines is perhaps one of the most sensitive topics. We try to do our best to provide the right mix to balance demand with profitability so that margins stay high for the dealer — and, of course, we want to grow our sales at the same time … that’s always a balancing act.
“I think however, that if you ask almost any multi-line dealer in the United States right now, their profitability for Yamaha products is one of the highest, if not the highest.”
Yamaha began bolstering its marketing initiatives last year, with the introduction of the Star brand, but plans to bring even more advertising and promotions to consumers in the coming year. McNeal said national advertising and events will be supplemented by localized consumer and media events.
“We’ve increased our advertising dollars considerably in the past year,” he said. “This reflects not only our overall increase in retail sales, but our efforts to promote the Star, Motorsports and Outdoor lines and expand our efforts in the area of localized events for both the media and our customers.” psb

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