AUSTIN, TX: Mazda USA, the auto marque, is now directing the majority of its marketing efforts through digital channels, reflecting the rapidly changing habits of consumers.

Russell Wager, the company's vp/marketing, discussed this topic with delegates at MediaPost's OMMA conference held during South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

"Almost 60% of our efforts now are in the digital world - whether it's in-market, out-of-market, SEM or social," he revealed. (For more, including how Mazda is building its brand from the bottom up, read Warc's exclusive report: Mazda puts digital in the driving seat.)

More specifically, the firm decided to retool its marketing dashboard two years ago, having conducted rigorous analysis of numerous factors. "We used analytics to see where we should put our messages," said Wager.

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"We used over 1,900 variables ... like inventory and incentives and advertising," said Wager. "Alongside these inputs were wider determinants which can shape shopper behaviour, such as the weather."

"And it basically said - to no surprise - [that] we should shift more towards digital. Okay, everyone does that. But we made a dramatic shift."

The impetus behind this decision is not hard to discern given that the purchase funnel has morphed into highly complex "journeys", according to Wager.

"Probably five years ago, if you had gone to purchase a car or truck, you would probably have visited about three or four dealerships," he said.

"On average, most people now visit one-and-a-half [dealers]. Why? Because they've interacted with the brand far before they get to the actual consumer touchpoint of a Mazda dealer."

Mazda's move towards digital as a result has been evidenced by everything from car launches to rating dealerships, plus within Mazda USA and its agencies.

"Two years ago, my digital team - and SEM team and social team - was three people. It's now 15," Wager reported. "You've got to restructure both on the internal as well as on the partner side."

Data sourced from Warc