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Suzuki Motor Corporation.

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4/15/2014




Executive Summary
Suzuki Motor Corporation is Japan's fourth largest automotive company, marketing its vehicles around
the world. Suzuki is best known in the United States as a manufacturer of small, fuel-efficient vehicles,
as well as a range of motorcycles and recreational vehicles. They are known for using a low-cost
strategy, relying on high volume sales to drive their profits. As a result they have failed to build brand
recognition within North America due to lack on marketing efforts in these regions. Although Suzukis
global strategy worked in Asian markets, such as India and China, it ultimately failed in the North
American market. Suzuki failed to fine-tune their product offerings to fit the needs of the North
American consumer. In North America Suzuki had bad leadership, limited dealer network, outdated
vehicles and lack of marketing plan.
Recommendations for Suzukis future operations are based on both the SWOT and Porters 5 forces
analysis, as well as, the pressures for change discussed in the text. Our first recommendation suggests
that Suzuki focus its efforts in automobile sales towards emerging economies of China and India. Our
second recommendation suggests that Suzuki continue to sell automobiles in North America by
establishing a fully owned production facility for their vehicles. Ultimately upon initial implementation
this type of strategy will require the company to switch from its current global strategy to a multi
domestic broad differentiation strategy. This shift will allow for Suzuki to properly identify the
differences between market segmentations within each country and create products and services that
are tailored to local markets. In doing so they create a foundation to rebuild their brand to a place
where it rivals the success of Maruti Suzuki (India Division) along with Japanese competitors like Honda,
Toyota and Yamaha.
Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 3
Porters 5 Forces Analysis ............................................................................................................................. 4
SWOT Analysis............................................................................................................................................... 5
Strength .................................................................................................................................................... 6
Weakness .................................................................................................................................................. 7
Opportunity............................................................................................................................................... 8
Threats ...................................................................................................................................................... 9
Reasons for Change .................................................................................................................................... 10
Recommendation ........................................................................................................................................ 13
Implementation plan .................................................................................................................................. 14
Appendix A : Porters 5 Forces Analysis ...................................................................................................... 16
Appendix B : SWOT Analysis ....................................................................................................................... 18
References .................................................................................................................................................. 19

Introduction
The Suzuki Company was founded by Michio Suzuki on October 1909. As time passed, Suzuki realized
that if they wanted to stay in business they would need to diversify [their products] (Suzuki Brand
History, 2014, para. 1). The company decided to turn to car making, taking a different approach than
their main competitor Toyota. Suzuki would create a unique model of car instead of replicating the
American six-cylinder engine like Toyota did. Unlike their competitors, Michio Suzuki made this decision
because he wanted to make a one-of-a-kind car that would diversify itself from the competition. He
developed several prototypes that were, based on four-cylinder engines [with] liquid cooling system[s]
(Suzuki Brand History, 2014, para. 3), ultimately never launched. The company turned to putting engines
onto bicycles. This captured the attention of the government who granted funds to Suzuki for research.
After they launched their first motorized bike, it became obvious that the motorcycle industry was more
attractive, so Suzuki changed their name to Suzuki Motor Co., (Suzuki Brand History, 2014). Even though
the motorcycle industry was their main focus, Suzuki launched their first lightweight vehicle in 1955
(Take a few, 2014).
Although Suzuki was a successful, they were having problems in expanding into other markets, they
decided to open a new subsidiary in Los Angeles in hopes that *it would+ reach new consumers in the
United States [automotive market] (Take a few, 2014, para. 7). As the 80s came around and with
many vehicles released, the company managed to establish new offices and R&D centers in multiple
locations, including India, France, Spain and Colombia. Moreover, Suzuki signed important agreements
with General Motors Corp and Isuzu Motors in 1981 to drive their North American sales Today Suzuki
has 120 distributors in 191 countries (Take a few, 2014).
Suzukis global strategy had a centralized management structure where all global operations were
controlled in Japan. They use a low-cost strategy where they sell cheaper cars in all of their markets also
they do not spend much on marketing. Also they use a standardized strategy where they sell cars that
are similar in every market; meaning that you will see the same Suzuki car in Canada and United
Kingdom. Although these global strategies worked in the other Asian markets, such as India and China, it
ultimately failed in the North American Markets. Suzuki failed to change their ways of operations to fit
the taste of the North American Markets. The American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) had an ill-
conceived retailing plan, bad leadership, [limited] dealer network, outdated vehicles and lack of
marketing funds (Radu, 2012, para. 7).The reason for the bad leadership and limited dealer network was
because the North American stores were being controlled in Japan. The reason for their outdated
vehicle is that they stuck with their standardized strategy. They lacked the understanding of other
countries having different tastes. The reason for the ill retailing plan and lack of marketing funds was
they were using a low cost strategy. They probably thought that by selling standardized cheap cars
would be enough to capture the North American markets. We think that if Suzuki wants to stay in the
North American market, they need to change their operations to be more locally responsive to
consumer demands.
Porters 5 Forces Analysis
Suzuki is a parent company that operates in multiple different product/market segments. In order to
fully understand the environment in which they operate our firm undertook an analysis using the
Porters Five Forces model. Porters Five Forces analyses the attractiveness of an industry or market
segment based on: the threat from new entrants and substitutes; the bargaining power of buyers and
suppliers; as well as the existing competitors within the market. For purposes of this analysis we
separated Suzukis market segments based on product, automotive or recreational vehicle, and on the
location of the market, Asian and North American. This separation resulted in the analysis of four key
markets, the details of which are attached in Appendix A.
The results of the analysis ranked the attractiveness of the markets from most to least attractive as
follows: Asian Recreational Vehicle, Asian Automotive, North American Recreational Vehicle, and lastly
North American Automotive. This illustrates the strength of Suzukis brand in both the Asian region, and
the small engine segment, a result of their commitment to quality and performance. This strong brand
image is augmented by lower competitive pressures from existing firms within Asian, and growing
disposable income within the emerging markets of the region. The firms historical success in small
engine development has helped create a competitive edge within all markets except the North
American Automotive Industry where the preference is towards larger more powerful engines. Although
the highly competitive nature of the North American Automotive market has made it unattractive and
caused Suzuki to recess from it in recent times it must be noted that it is the second largest market in
terms of units and the largest in terms in revenues; creating an opportunity to realize higher margins the
Suzuki currently is achieving.
SWOT
Suzuki is a large company engaged in global operations, all of which can be affected by both internal and
external factors. The SWOT analysis focuses on the internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as, the
external opportunities and threats. Please refer to appendix B for an illustration of Suzukis SWOT
diagram. The purpose of this analysis is to explore internal and external factors to Suzuki that affected
their performance in the North American automotive market.
Strength
Japan is known for the unpredicted quality of their vehicles. One of the primary, abundant resources in
japan is their human intellectual power. This resource fosters a large degree of R&D primarily in
automotive and electronics technology. The Motor Industry of Japan (2013) is a market report compiled
by The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. It states that 20.7% of the countrys total R&D
went into the automobile industry. Industries related to automotive such as iron & steel, as well as
electronic parts and circuits both collectively offer 8.1% of the countrys total R&D. together the R&D of
the automobile industry paired with the supporting industries is 28.8%, making up a significant part of
Japanese research and development operations. Furthermore this shows japans commitment to
producing the highest of quality vehicles. In addition Suzuki Motor Corporation is a company that has
diversified its product offerings, producing everything from motorcycles, cars, ATVs, small engines and
also marine engines. The application of Suzukis standardized products in North America was successful
in the small engine, ATV, marine and motorcycle segments.
The size and scale of Suzuki Motor Corporation gives them a solid financial foundation in order to
expand their operations once again to the North American market. They are the second largest
consumer market for automobiles in the world boasting some of the highest profit margins per vehicle.
Over the next five years the size and scale of Suzuki motor co will give them the ability to raise their
annual capital expenditures to 200.5 billion yen. This is a significant increase from 120 billion yen in the
past 5 years. Suzuki Motor Corporation states The investment will help expand [and foster global]
manufacturing (Hagiwara & Jie, 2012, para. 20). The facts all point towards Suzuki Motor Corporation
size, paired with its subsidiarys and success overseas builds a new foundation for global expansion.
Weakness
The reason for the poor retailer network and lack of marketing funds was due to their low cost strategy.
Suzukis strategy was based upon the belief that by selling standardized, cheap cars would be enough to
capture the North American consumer. The fact the Suzuki had no production network in North America
forced them to export a large portion of their product from Japan. Their poor retailer network and lack
of marketing was due to the companys centralized management approach, making all its decisions from
headquarters in Japan. Suzuki had no corporate presence in North America to accurately forecast
marketing trends and establish relationships with reputable dealers, leaving their market share to be
eaten by the competition.
Due to Suzukis un-positioning strategy dealerships that sold Suzuki were forced to market the same
vehicle to different consumer segments, making it difficult for the salesmen to emphasize upon one
particular need of the buyer. Furthermore, leading to a decrease in sales because the difficulty that
dealerships had selling Suzuki products. The ASMC had low price margins, low priced cars with small
sales volume, which lead them to poor brand building and bankruptcy in the North American
automotive market. The strategy when marketing the Suzuki Samurai was to position it without a niche.
Suzuki believed that this way each consumer could define the product and rationalize their purchase in
their own way. The Suzuki Samurai suffered a dilution of its purpose as a result of un-positioning the
product in the North American market. This caused confusion for consumers if the Samurai was really
the right product for them. The North American automobile market is much more visible to consumers
than the motorcycle/utility vehicle market. The companys image of producing high quality, high
performance products is diluted against the failure of Suzuki automobile sector. (REFFF)
Historically Suzuki has always been focused on a global strategy, emphasizing central coordination and
control of international operations. The challenge was for Suzukis management to effectively
coordinate the activities of their widely dispersed international operations. The Asia and European
markets are relatively similar to each other in terms of consumer trends. However, the North American
market is unique and makes up the second largest consumer market for automobiles globally.
Opportunity
Suzukis emphasis on engineering fuel-efficient vehicles has the opportunity pay off due to increasing
fuel prices and changing consumer trends. The market for such cars globally was $33 billion in 2010.
Suzukis focus on small and fuel efficient engines is a great opportunity to capture new market share. An
article by Jeff Bartlett (2009) of Consumer Reports.org explains a survey Conducted by the Consumer
Federation of America (CFA) showing that Americans want more fuel efficient vehicles. The increases in
gas prices are driving consumers to change their purchasing behaviours away from big and powerful to
small and fuel efficient. Business Trends (2009) asked consumers what they would be most likely to
compromise in their next new-vehicle purchase in order to save money they might need to spend on
fuel. The most common item on the list to be sacrificed was engine size, closely followed by vehicle size.
North American automotive trends are changing to mimic that of Europe and Asia. In the big picture this
is good because it will reduce the amount of harm we are doing to the globe and it will place more
disposable income into consumers pockets.
The size of the American automotive industry makes it an attractive market to be in as it grew 6.9% in
2013, making it second largest automobile market in the world (OICA, 2013). Suzuki should consider
producing their vehicles in North America exclusively under their control and to their production
standards. This type of strategy will require the company to switch from its current global strategy to a
multi domestic broad differentiation strategy. This shift will allow for Suzuki to properly identify the
differences between market segmentations within each country and create different products and
services that are tailored to local markets.
Suzukis field operations rely on Actuate inventory reports to understand dealers floor plans, inventory
types, inventory quantities and sales information. Suzuki uses Actuate applications for financial analysis
to measure profitability by combining sales with financial data. This financial analysis enables managers
to measure if they are meeting gross profit targets by dealership and product line (Lynch, 2007). Suziki
has access to the resources required for gathering and assessing new markets .However, they have to
establish a local presence in order to clearly see and understand the market beyond what is written on
paper this is necessary for Suzuki to do if they wish to re-enter the North American market with local
responsiveness allowing them to properly brand themselves in a way the delivers the value of the
Suzuki.
Threats
The governments currency intervention on August 4 was the third time in less than a year that the
Japanese government moved to address the strong Yen. A continuing surge in the Yen makes Japans
key export sector less competitive abroad. A 10 per cent rise in the Yen takes away as much as 18 per
cent of profits by Japanese manufacturers such as Suzuki, Honda, Toyota and Yamaha (Panda,2012,
para. 8).
There is a very competitive market in North America for automobiles due to the mixture of both
domestic and foreign brand that are already established in the market. The entry barriers into the
industry will be high due to the degree of differentiation and diversity among other substitutes already
available in the market. The threat of substitution is high, due to Japanese manufacturers like Honda,
Toyota and Yamaha already present in the market. Suzuki will have to expel a large amount of capital
upfront in order to enter the North American market.
Suzuki has already seen their reputation in the automobile sector fall when it was alleged that their
vehicles were unsafe when am American women died from a Samurai flipping over. This incident had
left a permanent scar on Suzukis image, labeling the brand as being low quality and unsafe. Safety is
number one when it comes to building cars and advertising their safety increases their value. In the
automobile industry consumers are highly concerned with safety. If the vehicle is not safe or perceived
as not safe then the company puts its reputation at risk along with its market share.
Reasons for Change
Basde on the sales numbers of 2012, Suzuki sold roughly 5,500 vehicles in Canada (Deveau,
2013), which has consistently declined since the recovery from the recession. Compared to big
competition in the automotive industry, Ford sold 284,000 cars, while the Japanese automaker
Toyota sold 195,000 vehicles in Canada (CTV News, 2014). Base on this statistic, Suzuki sold only
1.9% of the amount Ford sold, which is far too little to generate substantial profit for Suzuki in
the North American sector. One of the big problems with Suzuki is that they did not do a
thorough research to know what North Americans wanted in their automobile, at the same
time; Suzuki was moving small volume of units annually at a low profit margin. Berkowitz (2012)
states Suzukis retail system was a proper mess. Low-profit-margin products and small sales
didnt always attract high-quality dealer managers and sales staff, which in turn turned off
many customers.
Due to the high uncertainty of the road conditions in Central Canada, North Americans prefer a
bigger vehicle that could comfortably adapt to the changes of the road conditions. Maciamo
(n.d.) states European cars are very different in style than their American counterparts.
American cars tend to be more massive and squarer, because size matters in the States. All
four Suzuki models sold in Canada are small, all with the same 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. The
only exception is the SX4 model which offers a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engines producing slightly less
power. In the North American market when the roads are much wider than in Europe and Asia,
it increases the want of a bigger vehicle. North Americans also enjoy vehicles that have good
torque capability especially for households who tow trailers and boats. The Grand Vitara has
the highest towing capacity in the Suzuki line at 3000lbs, which is less than its direct
competitors Kia V6 Sorrento which could tow 3500lbs. Suzukis product lineup required to be
extended and updated but chose to stay stagnant and took little action during the times of the
recession (Deveau, 2013). This allowed new entrants such as Hyundai and Kia to expand greatly
in North America as these automakers consistently expanded and updated their product line
during the recovery period.
Another big problem that associated with the downfall of Suzuki was their online website,
which is a frustrating website for consumers to gather information from. Competitors websites
such as BMW or Mercedes-Benz have an integrated system which allows customers to
customize the vehicle the way he or she wants. These customizable features include color of
the exterior, interior, leather seats, navigation, sport package, etc. These websites also presents
an in depth specification of all the mechanical parts such as torque, horsepower, drivetrain,
number of seats, heated seats, etc. Take Mercedes-Benz for example, if a customer wants to
choose the C class model, they can select from the C250 model (2.5L) up to the C63 AMG model
(6.2L) with a wide variety of optional features to choose from. Compared to Suzukis webpage,
they have a website that does not show the specification of the vehicles, therefore customers
have no choice of what they can purchase. For example, if a customer wants to purchase the
Grand Vitara, there is no option of selecting whether they want the inline 4 or the V6 model.
The separation between Suzuki North America and Maruti Suzuki is also a huge issue, as Maruti
Suzuki sells a much wider range of product line with a much more attractive styling. Maruti
Suzukis webpage is well developed with the ability to view vehicles in 360 degree views and a
brief technical specification of their lineup. Currently, the bestselling car from Suzuki is the
newly redesigned Suzuki Swift, which is currently listed in the top 100 of the best selling cars
worldwide. The newly redesigned Suzuki Swift is not sold in the North American market, which
is another big downfall for Suzuki.
Pressures for Change
Hyper competition pressure
Hyper competition, occurs when technologies or offerings are so consistent that profits resulting from
any competitive advantages cannot be sustained for the long-term. A report by Tian Ying (2010) in
Bloomberg news showcases the United States as the second largest auto market in the world. There are
over 20 automobile companies competing in the North America market. In 2013, The American
Companies, General Motor, Ford, and Chrysler already own about 45% of the market (The U.S. Market,
2014). The three largest Japanese automakers: Toyota, Honda and Nissan get about 30% of the market.
These six companies already own 75% of the market share in the America market (The U.S. Market,
2014). The remaining 25% of market share is shared between more than 10 companies. With so many
competitors in this industry, Suzuki would have to differentiate its products in a way that makes then
unique to the consumer.
Mandated pressure
Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards were established in the United States to
mandate more fuel efficient cars and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (Vlasic, 2012). All the
vehicles sold in US must meet the fuel economy and emission standards set by the U.S. government. The
goal that United States tries to achieve is 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, and 54.5 miles per gallon for the
2025 model year (Vlasic, 2012). This gives lots of pressure to Suzuki if they wish to re-enter the North
America market.
Reputation and credibility pressure
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can generate a profit by looking after and rewarding the community
in which it operates. These types of actions are done to boost the firms reputation and creditability to a
level that makes them competitive. Under the observation of Best and worst in brand perception, Suzuki
has 7
th
worst brand reputation in the whole world (Consumer Reports, 2012). Compare to other
Japanese auto maker, Suzuki has a comparably low score (Consumer Reports, 2012). Toyota scored 131
and Suzuki just got 11. Low global brand reorganization is not favorable for Suzuki to do international
expansion or increasing sales worldwide. Also, Suzuki is not listed at the top five in other categories like
safety, quality, value, performance, green, style, and technology (Consumer Reports, 2012). Suzuki is
doing all it can to rebuild their reputation and creditability. They continuously provide after sales
services to the North Americans Suzuki owners honoring warranty contract regardless of the fact that
they no longer have a presence in the North American market.
Recommendation
Based on analysis of Suzuki using both SWOT and PORTERs models as analytical tools as well as the
pressures for change discussed in the text, our group has decided on two different alternatives we
believe can potentially benefit Suzukis future growth in the North American market.
Our first recommendation is for Suzuki to completely shut down North America operations and focus its
efforts on its Asian markets. Suzuki would pursue this strategy to focus on its successful Asian markets,
while lowering their risks in floundering North American segment. In doing so they would focus on a
market where they possess a sustainable competitive advantage related to their strong brand image,
and low cost leadership.
Our second recommendation suggests that Suzuki continue to sell automotive and recreational products
in North America. This type of strategy will require the company to switch from its current global
strategy to a multi domestic broad differentiation strategy. This shift will allow for Suzuki to properly
identify the differences between market segmentations within each country and create products and
services that are tailored to local markets. Its current global strategy has proven to be ineffective as it
does not take into account the individuality of each nation because of the use of standardized
throughout all national markets. Following this recommendation allows for Suzuki to yield higher
revenues as a result of higher margins in the auto industry compared to motorcycles and ATVs. By
modifying their current product line to create vehicles better suited to North American living as well as
increasing brand recognition we believe Suzuki can return as a solid foreign competitor in the
automotive industry.
Implementation plan
Market Research/ NA design team what customers want, experienced designers, customized product,
consulting firm
Production Facility Wholly owned Where No bias b/t Canada, America advn in Canada (grants),
America (Detroit), Mexico ( LC Labour)
New Vehicles - Wider range, More customizable, larger, climate friendly
Dealerships establish dealers in major cities then consider espansion, hub and spoke model
Marketing Campaign commercials, billboards, brand exposure, website (based on Maruti)
Competitive advantage - low cost structure with a high degree of customization.



Appendix A : Porters 5 Forces Analysis
North American Automotive Market

Overall market attractiveness = 5.6/10
Asian Automotive Market

Overall market attractiveness = 4.4/10

Bargaining Power of Suppliers
5
-Requires highly specialized parts.
-Economies of scale have limited the number
of suppliers.

Bargaining Power of Buyers
9
-Many other brands to select from.
-Frequent price wars with competitors.
Threat of Substitutes
4
-Relatively low threat due to lack of
substitutes outside mass transit.

Threat of New Entrants
1
-High fixed and R&D costs related to entry.
-Many established brands within the market.
-High switching costs for customers.
Existing Competitors
9
-High market saturation with low market share.
-Lack competitive positioning
-Entrenched competitors
Bargaining Power of Suppliers
5
-Requires highly specialized parts.
-Economies of scale have limited the number of
suppliers
Bargaining Power of Buyers
2
-Less low cost competitors

Threat of Substitutes
7
-Moderatly high threat due to societal trend
towards mass transit.
Threat of New Entrants
4
-Low cost focus within segment reduces the
investment for entry.
-Lower switching costs related to low cost options
Existing Competitors
4
-Lack of pre existing brand loyalty
- Emerging market with few competitors

North American Recreational Vehicle Market

Overall market attractiveness = 5.4/10
Asian Recreational Vehicle Market

Overall market attractiveness = 4.4/10

Bargaining Power of Suppliers
3
-Many suppliers.
-Slower innovation results in economies of scale.

Bargaining Power of Buyers
8
-Many other brands to select from.
-Frequent price wars with competitors.
Threat of Substitutes
7
-Many substitutes for most RV products.

Threat of New Entrants
3
-High fixed and R&D costs related to entry.
-Many established brands within the market.
-Lower switching costs to customers
-
Existing Competitors
6
-High market saturation.
-Strong brand within small engine segment can be leveraged for
competitive advantage.
Bargaining Power of Suppliers
1
-Many suppliers.
-Slower innovation results in economies of scale.
- Close proximity allows for vertical integration.
Bargaining Power of Buyers
8
-Many other brands to select from.
-Frequent price wars with competitors.
Threat of Substitutes
5
-Many substitutes for most RV products.
-Societal trend towards using motorcycles as
subsititute for automotive products.
Threat of New Entrants
3
-High fixed and R&D costs related to entry.
-Many established brands within the market.
-Lower switching costs to customers
Existing Competitors
4
-High market saturation
- Strong brand image and pre existing brand loyalty that can be
leveraged as competitive advantage by Suzuki.

Appendix B : SWOT Analysis













Strengths:
Japanese technology
Diversified operations
Strength of motorcycle division
Size and scale of Suzuki Motor
Corporation
Weaknesses:
Poor retailer network and lack of
marketing
Un-positioning strategy
Brand building
Global strategy
Centralized management
Opportunities:
Increase in fuel prices
Multi domestic strategy focusing on
broad differentiation
Size of the North American car market

Threats:
Market rivalry
Product substitution
Consumer trends
Bad reputation in the North American
automotive segment

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