Acura is opening its pocketbook as it tries to move its image more upscale.
Dennis Manns, assistant vice president of national sales for Acura Division, said Acura's advertising budget will increase 50 percent this year. The luxury division of American Honda spent $133 million in measured spending for the first 11 months of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Manns said the increase will come from the division's own expenditures and does not include money from the 258 Acura dealers.
'Six months ago we went to a relevance-based marketing program. As a result, our Acura dealers, customers and shoppers are going to see a lot more Acura advertising,' Manns said.
'The relevance-based marketing program allows us to be a lot more flexible. We have budgets to launch (the CL), plus we have budgets to sustain the other (existing) products. Before, it was like an either-or type of deal,' he said. The new CL went on sale March 1.
According to an Acura spokesman, relevance-based marketing is giving the dealers the ability to advertise products regionally. For instance, if a car is not selling well in a particular market, the regional dealer groups can use co-op money to promote it. Before, individual dealers advertised their own stores, but Acura didn't have money for regional ads that might prop up lagging models. The program is exclusive to Acura and is not used in marketing Hondas.
Acura is finding other ways to be more efficient in marketing. For example, it now has the same advertising agency as Honda: Rubin Postaer & Associates of Santa Monica, Calif. Acura also recently searched Honda's corporate database for upscale customers who have purchased Honda-brand marine engines and lawnmowers.
Acura has sent brochures and e-mail teasers to people who have purchased a Honda boat engine or lawnmower and meet Acura's demographic target of $100,000-plus household income. For instance, Acura spent 'more than a million' on a recent direct-mail campaign to introduce the CL. The first wave of mailers began arriving in January and will continue for the next five months, Manns said.