LOS ANGELES -- American Suzuki Motor Corp. will try to build on its reputation as a producer of motorcycles to help sell cars.
The company is targeting Suzuki motorcycle owners with a direct marketing campaign for its new Kizashi mid-sized sedan.
This month, 40,000 brochures printed on thick, glossy paper will be sent to owners of Suzuki bikes who live near Suzuki auto dealers. About 300,000 Suzuki motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and marine-engine owners will get an e-mail blast. Suzuki also will send the brochure to 210,000 of its 700,000 car owners in early 2010, said Gene Brown, marketing vice president.
The brochure doesn't connect motorcycles and automobiles, but the Kizashi's performance is played up. The Kizashi is compared to Audi's A4 and the Acura TSX, instead of segment rivals such as the Toyota Camry. The campaign is the first step in the Kizashi launch program. Sales training for 900 dealer personnel begins in January. A TV campaign will start in April, when dealers are expected to have sufficient inventories.
Suzuki's sales are down 55 percent through November to 36,810 units. "Volumes are limited for Suzuki right now, so we need to find and satisfy those core enthusiasts," said Koichi Suzuki, executive vice president of American Suzuki.
Last year, Suzuki aimed a direct marketing campaign at motorcyclists when it launched the Equator pickup, a rebadged Nissan Frontier. That effort didn't pay off. But Koichi Suzuki, who is no relation to the company's founding family, has confidence this time.
"Motorcyclists who love Suzuki and also love trucks for the most already own a truck," he said. "But everyone needs a car."