HOLLYWOOD, FL: Carmaker Mazda is seeking to reach "premium" consumers – a group it defines in terms of engagement and meeting certain psychographic criteria, rather than only using financial metrics.

Russell Wager, VP/Marketing for Mazda's North American Operations, discussed this subject during a session at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) 2017 Annual Leadership Meeting (ALM).

"Most people's definition of 'premium' is a higher price, but Mazda's is about the depth of the bond with our customers," he said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: How Mazda found its automotive-marketing niche.)

"Our target customers are not defined by demographics, but rather by psychographics. These are people who share our passion for driving. We call them 'UMCs' – or 'US Mazda Customers'."

Drilling down into that topic, he suggested that "Mazda Premium" is playing a core role in the company's evolving brand strategy.

And this notion is supported by a set of specific audience characteristics which can be summed up in a neat phrase. "Their love of driving – and how it makes them feel – reflects their passion for life," Wager said.

Underneath this overarching enthusiasm for getting behind the wheel, members of the "Premium" cohort will typically agree with a range of different statements about automobiles and hitting the open road.

Among the six main values these drivers concur on are "I like cars that are unique", "exterior styling is important to me" and "I only buy cars that are fun to drive".

Mazda estimates this demographic comprises some 16% of all new car-owners. And having quantified the opportunity, the ongoing task is to reach and engage them.

"We just need to find them. Our key challenge today is how to connect our products to an experience – an emotional value," Wager said.

It has achieved this aim, in part, by becoming deeply embedded in motorsports and using immersive marketing, such as bringing auto enthusiasts to the hills and mountains of Colorado to test its MX-5 Miata sports car.

"We set out to transform ourselves from 'company-centred' marketing to 'consumer-centred' marketing. Or, more simply, [being] an 'experience provider'," Wager said.

Data sourced from Warc