The Unobvious Ones is a monthly look at movers and shakers who fly below the radar in the Canadian auto industry. Getting cars to customers involves understanding sales targets, dealer volumes, competitors and what products are available.
CONNECTING WITH CUSTOMERS AND KEEPING THEM ENGAGED
Buyers do the math vehicle shopping, but their choice also involves emotion.
In her role as national manager of brand communications for Mazda Canada in Richmond Hill, Ont., Heather Boutcher ensures advertising campaigns tackle both.
“The hardest thing is building that emotional connection with customers in a way they may not even think of,” she said. “If it’s a vehicle like the CX-50 [utility vehicle], we’ll show it in the outdoors, someone hiking. We’re saying it fits the lifestyle, rather than ‘you have to see this car,’ and then when those outdoor fans are shopping, they’re thinking about Mazda.
“The flip side is keeping owners engaged with the brand, reinforcing why they chose it and why they want to continue with Mazda.”
Each day is a “lot of meetings,” connecting with her four-person team and with ad agency partners on digital, social media, print and TV campaigns, as well as sponsorship partners such as Rogers Cup and Canada Snowboard.
“We work together to bring the creative campaign to life. There are very specific things we want to do, because what works on TikTok won’t work on Facebook.”
While earning a biology degree in university, Boutcher, 47, worked at Sears, using her fluency in French in the customer service department. Out of school, she did the same job at GM Canada. A friend at Mazda told her a customer-relationship management position was open, and she joined the company in 2010.
“We had very limited experiential [events] and I was asked to come up with something engaging, so we did a fun contest [at various auto shows in Canada], and then supporting Miata clubs with track events. I was promoted to national manager last year to take on more of the social [media]. I’ve always been with marketing, just growing it and adding the team to support me.”
CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL
Rolls-Royce saw the importance of the Canadian luxury-vehicle market, but it lacked corporate presence. In February 2021, it planted a flag.
Holding it is Matthew Wilson, general manager for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Canada: He’s the “one and only” representative.
“Canada is one of the strongest markets globally and that’s why my role was created.
“I’m a generalist more than anything. I work with our dealer principals on business plans and facilities, with management at the retailers on client orders, on the after-sales business, with our logistics partner making sure the vehicles arrive on time, and with our financial-service partners ensuring we have the right offering in the market.”
Wilson said 2021 was very successful, with the brand’s four retailers in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver delivering “north of 200” vehicles. From his office in parent BMW Group’s headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ont., he works closely with Rolls-Royce head offices in the United Kingdom and the United States, which jointly handled Canada before his position was created.
“The biggest difference versus other [automakers] is the client relationship,” he said. “I can’t be involved with every vehicle, but a portion of our clients want to go above and beyond, and have unique requests. One of the strengths of Rolls-Royce is the relationship clients can have directly with the manufacturer.
“We don’t circumvent the retail partners, and the dealer is always involved, but there may be customization that I get involved in with our [factory] partners in Goodwood [England]. It’s a joint effort.”
Wilson, 44, has a business degree. Before joining Rolls-Royce, he worked in product planning for Mazda, Honda and then BMW.
“I don’t have a typical day. It’s a small number of cars but there’s a lot more involved with the experiential aspects. It’s part of the lifestyle of owning a Rolls-Royce.”