How a Marketing Award Winner Used the Economic Downturn as a Springboard for Growth

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 @ 12:13 PM


The early-bird deadline for The 2011 (8th annual) International Business Awards is April 12 - entry to the IBAs is open to all organizations worldwide - so we thought we'd take a look back at Thai Yamaha Motor Company in Thailand, which won the Stevie® Award for Marketing Department of the Year in the marketing awards categories of The 2010 IBAs. Here we look at how they turned lemons into lemonade in 2009.

Thai Yamaha Motor imageThai Yamaha Motor has been a success story since it was established 47 years ago, but the strength of the company was tested during the economic crisis of 2009 when the Thai economy declined by 3%, and industrial sales declined by 9.8%. Despite this, Thai Yamaha Motor achieved record sales and expanded its market share, while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction and improving its operations. Today, Thai Yamaha Motor has achieved a premium brand position in the Thai market by offering innovative products and utilizing lifestyle marketing.

Marketing Achievements
At the time of the economic crisis in 2009, the company recognized that it needed to maximize revenue and reduce costs. The measures that it took resulted in an increased market share from 23% to 28% over the period 2007-2009; a profit level that is among the highest in the industry; and employee satisfaction that has reached a record level of 80%.

So how did Thai Yamaha Motor achieve this?

Launched New Models
During 2009, the Thai Yamaha Motor marketing department launched several new models designed to meet the needs of the economic climate, and their efforts resulted in a 53% market share of the automatic motorcycle segment as well as a rating of 92% in customer satisfaction.

Enhanced Brand Image
The company’s motorcycle retail shops were modernized and improved nationwide to enhance the brand image.

The company ran an advertising campaign using popular Korean and Thai celebrities; it sponsored a series of popular sell-out concerts; and the company even set the Guinness World Record for the largest parade of automatic motorcycles when 2,474 Yamaha Finos gathered at an event organized by Thai Yamaha Motor at Khun Dan Prakarnchon Dam, Nakorn Nayok Province, Thailand, in August 2009.  

The result: Thai Yamaha Motor Company received the most publicity in press publications and online news stories for the industry segment that year.

Operation Efficiencies
In addition to their marketing efforts, Thai Yamaha Motor introduced a number of operating efficiencies: Factory operations were significantly improved, achieving the highest level of "complete assembly without rework" in Yamaha’s worldwide operations; recalls were reduced to one of the lowest in the worldwide Yamaha group; and supply chain management was improved, reducing inventory turnover to 14 days.

Corporate Social Responsibility
Thai Yamaha Motor opened a new Yamaha motorcycle safety riding school, acclaimed as one of the best in Asia. The company also received a government award for its safety record in factory operations at the national level.

As a result of improving its employee satisfaction, Thai Yamaha Motor achieved employee turnover rate as low as 3% at a time when the industry rate was at 11%.

Thai Yamaha Motor has received a number of awards over the past few years, and in 2009 the Royal Thai Government recognized its top management for the company’s education and vocational-training support.
Continued Growth
Thai Yamaha Motor continues to grow. The company is among the top contributor to Yamaha profits worldwide. It has continued to expand production capacity and to improve ways to better serve its customers.

In February 2011, Thai Yamaha Motor's chief operating officer Praphan Phornthanavarsit said that Thailand's motorcycle market grew by an impressive 20 per cent last year to around 1.85 million units, due to continued economic recovery and increased consumer confidence.

"The Yamaha brand also enjoyed a year of success in 2010, recording the highest sales in 10 years. Total wholesales were 505,000 units, with total retail sales of 486,000 units, total motorcycle registrations of 479,000 units, and total parts sales of Bt1.4 billion," Praphan said.   "These achievements have led Yamaha to enjoy a market share of 26 per cent, which reflects strong confidence in Yamaha's products and outstanding image."

Based on Thai Yamaha Motor's analysis of economic trends and related factors, it expects that the motorcycle market will record sales growth of 4 per cent this year, to around 1.92 million units, he said. Yamaha's sales target for 2011 has been set at 520,000 units. If this is achieved, it will be equivalent to 9% year-on-year growth, achieving a market share of 27%.

About Praphan Phornthanavarsit
Praphan Phornthanavarsit, Chief Operating Officer of Thai Yamaha Motor, is an inspirational leader who has utilized strategic thinking and creativity along with strong management skills to make Thai Yamaha Motors the success it is today. He has had a successful track record in various fields, including the automotive industry, information technology, and business consultancy. Praphan is one of the most respected persons in Thailand’s motorcycle industry and has contributed significantly to the industry’s development.

About Thai Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd
Thai Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is the manufacturer and marketer of Yamaha motorcycles in Thailand. The company employs about 3,200 staff, and in 2009 had an annual sales turnover in excess of 700 million USD with production capacity of 600,000 motorcycles. The company's manufacturing facility is one of Yamaha Motor’s largest and most efficient motorcycle plants in the world.

Want to be recognized for your marketing achievements as Thai Yamaha Motor was?  Get our free tipsheet, 10 Tips for Winning Marketing Awards in the 2011 Stevies.

The early-bird entry deadline for The 2011 International Business Awards is April 12. You'll find the entry kit here.

Topics: business awards, marketing awards, communication awards, marketing award