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Non-electronic communication methods and practices of Suzuki

Analyze the Communication and E-communication Strategy of Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Communication is an essential, in fact the most crucial aspect of any business in today’s world where it is known as corporate communication. The advent and spread of globalization has further enhanced its importance. Business executives have realized the significance of communication in attracting customers and other stakeholders (Adebayo, Balogun and Kareem 2013). The use of both verbal and non-verbal communication strategies have become an integral part of the business.  Companies use both electronic and non-electronic methods of communication to respond and address their customers, staff members, suppliers and other stakeholders and shareholders (Roth 2014). Non-electronic communication methods involve communication through face-to-face interaction, gestures, and signs and so on. In business, meetings, conferences, seminars and press conferences are some forms of non-electronic communication. Electronic communication includes use of social networking sites, official websites or other forms that does not involve direct human interaction (Wolny and Mueller 2013).

In this report, the communication strategies of Suzuki in both electronic and non-electronic methods applied in case of customers, staff members, suppliers and the public will be discussed. Suzuki is one of world’s leading automobile companies involved in the manufacturing and selling of two-wheeler and four-wheeler vehicles.  Michio Suzuki founded it in 1909 in Japan (Global Suzuki 2018). The report will also include a SWOT analysis of the communication strategies employed by Suzuki and then provide recommendations based on the analysis. Prior to the recommendations, the report will compare and contrast the communication strategies used by Suzuki’s top competitors – Honda and Hyundai.  In addition, the report will present the analysis on the importance of integrating both methods of communication for effectiveness. 

As Suzuki Motor Corporation is the ninth biggest automotive company in the world, it has to maintain a good balance between its electronic and non-electronic communication methods. The company employs over 50,000 thousand workers worldwide and possesses around 35 production facilities in over 20 countries across the globe (Global Suzuki 2018). With such a huge corporate management to look after, the company has the huge responsibility to apply effective methods of communication both verbal and non-verbal.  Based in Japan, Suzuki has Japanese as its chief language of communication. However, with such a strong base worldwide, the company is aware of the need for achieving communication competency in multiple languages. The company holds an annual meeting each year with top officials attending the meeting to discuss the company’s financial results and future directions. In the meeting, the officials use face-to-face interaction methods to put forward their views and ideas. Prior to the meeting, all officials bow down to greet each other in the traditional Japanese way. Here, they use the non-electronic and non-verbal mode of communication.

Overview of key electronic media and communication strategies

In case of communicating with its shareholders and stakeholders, Suzuki makes sure that, it uses a language and gesture that is easily understood by them. In most cases, the need for non-electronic communication arises when official members meet but communication with stakeholders mostly involves electronic methods. Apart from that, video conferencing, which is an electronic method of communication, is integrated with non-electronic method that is face-to-face meeting while conducting the Annual Meeting each year.

The employees of Suzuki use non-electronic communication method at various showrooms production plants present throughout the world to engage with customers and suppliers and. The managers and CEOs of respective subsidiary companies and branches engage in verbal communication with the esteemed customers when they are about to project or sell their product. The company tries to maintain its inherent tradition and culture of greeting and welcoming people in all its showrooms. In case of suppliers, the company maintains a strict code of conduct while engaging in non-electronic communication. The officials, who are responsible to convey and take messages from the suppliers, have to follow strict protocols set by the higher management. While communicating with the public for any urgent announcement or during times of crisis, the company executives gather in an open meeting and communicate their message through the media. However, in most cases, non-electronic communication is limited only to company staff and officials.

Suzuki Motor Corp, like most other auto making companies, has incorporated an advanced use of electronic communication methods that include official webpage, Facebook official page and so on. The Twitter is however, the most used electronic communication medium by the company. It has an official account on Twitter from where the company makes important announcements regarding the promotion or launch of a new product, the change in prices, and the appointment of new executive leaders and so on. Apart from that, the company also utilizes emails as an important method for communicating with mostly staff members. It has its own official website with the name globalsuzuki.com where people can have all the information from corporate to investor relations to the company’s history. The official site also flashes latest and breaking news related to the company thus communicating its core information with the public. Further, the official website has options of global links clicking on which the customers can have a look at the different countries where the company operates. In addition, the website has different versions specific to the countries where it has subsidiaries. By allowing the customers to access their annual reports, disclosure policies and other important information, the company strategizes to build a strong bond with the customers and maintain it further. The official website also has a link to the Global Communication Magazine, which is an interesting part of the company’s communication strategy. An e-magazine, it has account of all the vehicles launched by the company in different countries over the years.

SWOT Analysis of Suzuki’s communication methods and practices

With the latest updates posted on Facebook each time, the company makes its customers aware of the new trends in the industry and products that it is about to launch (Malthouse et al. 2013). This strategy allows the company to keep up to date with customers’ changing demands. The feedbacks posted on the Facebook page by active customers helps largely in rectifying the mistakes. This is another crucial strategy employed by the company concerning electronic media and communication. The company also projects all the new vehicles in its official webpage and allows customers to go through all the new entries in two-wheeler and four-wheeler sections (Schmitt and Van Biesebroeck 2013).

Advertisement is another effective method of electronic communication employed by the company. An analysis of the ad campaigns performed by Suzuki reveals that it knew which segment to target according to the popular culture prevalent in that country. To cite an example, in India, the company targeted the family-dominant segment by collaborating with Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) in 1982 (Nowak 2016). The venture proved extremely successful as it managed to garner maximum user attention. Similar success was repeated in the Western countries as well where the company communicated a different message altogether to the population. In the U.S., Suzuki promoted its two-wheelers most significantly thus attracting the American youth. 

The credibility and effectiveness of the communication methods and practices employed by Suzuki Motor Corp could be properly analyzed by performing its SWOT analysis. by knowing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of its communication strategy, better strategies can be suggested.

Strengths – the biggest strength of Suzuki’s communication strategy is its applicability in multiple cultures with diverse cultural backgrounds. The company has been successful in making successful ad campaigns through its innovative communication strategies that include specific ads for specific cultures (Mwasilu et al. 2014). In areas of non-electronic communication as well, the company has been able to create a unique image of itself with its warm welcoming gestures to the customers. Apart from that, the company has been able to maintain an almost spotless image since its inception owing to its transparent communication style.

Weaknesses – as opposed to its strength, Suzuki has, as an evident weakness, the lack of a separate communication specialist team. In addition, it has been incapable of maintaining a stronghold on the social media sphere like other automobile companies (García-Madariaga and Rodríguez-Rivera 2017). One of the reasons for this could be the strong Japanese values that the company executives uphold, which bars them from over exposure. However, this strategy has not been able to generate much attention or appreciation from the common masses, the target customers (Diewald et al. 2013).  Added to that, there has been a lack of communication between the chief executive board and its subsidiaries in different countries have resulted in numerous controversies.

Opportunities – with the advancement in information and communication technology, businesses have gained an added impetus to connect to customers worldwide (Aiken, Gu and Wang 2013). To Suzuki also, this provides a great opportunity to connect with customers worldwide and learn more about them. One of the biggest advantages it has presented is that the company has been able to make customized cars and motorbikes for the people thus increasing its brand value. Further, the strategy of Suzuki to stay majorly connected to the people through Facebook has opportune Suzuki to garner maximum views for its ad campaigns (Hutter et al. 2013). In the company’s official website, it is clearly visible that Suzuki has maintained limited options for customers to visit other social sites.

Threats – Other companies in the same field are changing their communication strategies each moment as per the demands of the contemporary business environment. The companies are coming up with flexible strategies that could be altered as per the trend. This has proved a serious threat to Suzuki. Apart from that, the new entrants that are coming to the field have come up with new ways to interact with the customers with the development of mobile applications (Harrison, Flood and Duce 2013). Customers are able to learn about their favorite cars and bikes through these applications and receive services as well. 


The SWOT analysis reveals that Suzuki is mostly on the right track when it comes to preparing communication strategies for both electronic and non-electronic methods, however, the analysis found that it lacks in many areas and must develop innovative ideas to make its communication plan more effective than its rivals must. An analysis and comparison of Suzuki’s communication plan with Honda and Hyundai, two of its top competitors shall provide a clearer picture.

Honda has been one of the fiercest rivals of Suzuki and it has been able to replace the company several times from the top position. The company has a systematic communication strategy that involves the brand values majorly. Honda, also a Japanese company, a multinational conglomerate has a consistent approach towards communication (Global.honda 2018). Focusing mostly on brand value, its communication strategy involves sales promotions, packaging and designing, publicity and public relations, event marketing, point of sale, direct response, direct marketing and media advertising. The brand has evolved mostly through its innovative ad campaigns where the makers have been able to focus on specific features related to every model. In its four-wheelers segment as well, Honda emerged as successful by applying its cohesive communication strategies. Similar to Suzuki, Honda also has minimum presence on the social media platforms with studies suggesting that more than 90% customers do not follow Honda in Facebook. In addition, it was also found that both owners and non-owners of Honda four-wheelers learnt about its features through word of mouth and the internet, like Suzuki (Motohashi 2015). It is thus evident that Honda and Suzuki apply similar communication strategies when it comes to utilizing the social media.

Hyundai, on the other hand, initially had very weak communication strategy with most of the data and information going unrecorded in the company website. A South Korean automotive company operating in numerous countries, Hyundai has been able to come out of that slump and prepare strategies that led to its unimaginable boost especially during the 2009-2010 periods (Cbsnews.com 2018). The company was able to grab and capitalize on opportunities it received and prepared ad campaigns that boosted the company’s sales. Within the company’s own organization, the communication methods – electronic and non-electronic – Hyundai has somewhat similar methods to that of Suzuki with major difference being the South Korean and Japanese way of greeting. Unlike Suzuki however, Hyundai has strong social media presence. Its official website provides links to Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter and even Instagram (Hyundai.com 2018). In this regard, Hyundai has an edge over Suzuki because all these platforms have huge customer base. 

After undertaking a thorough analysis of the communication methods, strategies and practices of Suzuki Motor Corp, it is evident that it has a solid strategy but needs improvement in many areas. It is important for an automotive company to be creative and innovative while communicating with the customers particularly. The company must also understand the dominant presence of the social media in people’s lives and accordingly plan its strategies. The following recommendations could be made for the company to follow in order to increase its consumer base.

  • It is recommended that Suzuki should have accounts in other social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn and not just in Facebook and YouTube.
  • Further, it is recommended that the company should allow its users the opportunity to give feedback on its official webpage while browsing through its new and upcoming launches.
  • The company should develop mobile applications and collaborate with mobile companies to include their applications in their phones thus empowering the customers even more.
  • It is also recommended that the higher executives communicate more often with the employees especially in the subsidiary companies of other countries such that there is no lack in information exchange.
  • Further, it can be recommended that the company should be more flexible when it comes to giving itself the exposure it needs amongst the tech-savvy generation.
  • Lastly, the company should find new ways to attract car lovers especially in Asian nations to ensure it stays ahead of the competition.

Conclusion

In the end, it can be concluded that both communication and e-communications strategies employed by Suzuki are effective but with some drawbacks. The report provided an overall analysis of the communications methods and practices followed by the company. It found that the company has limited social media exposure while its non-electronic communication methods are better than its electronic communication methods. The report also found that two of its fierce competitors Honda and Hyundai have certain similar and some dissimilar communication methods to Suzuki. The report did a SWOT analysis of the company that revealed the various weaknesses it had and the opportunities, strengths and threats it possessed. The analysis found that Suzuki had least exposure to social media platform with only Facebook and YouTube being its two social media communication tools. The analysis also revealed the opportunities the company has to improve its communication strategies. Suzuki is a well-known name in the field of auto making and with an improved communication strategy; the company could stay ahead of the competition. Amongst its threats are the new entrants within the automotive industry and the old established players who are adjusting as per the changing trends. The report then analyzed the communication strategies utilized by the company’s two key rivals, Honda and Hyundai. It was found that both the companies have unique communication strategies and both are active in various social media platforms. The report then provided some recommendations to the company to respond strongly to its competitors by developing a strong communication practice. 

References:

Adebayo, O.S., Balogun, O.J. and Kareem, T.S., 2013. An Investigative Study Of The Factors Affecting The Adoption Of Information And Communication Technology In Small And Medium Scale Enterprises In Oyo State, Nigeria. International journal of business and management invention, 2(9), pp.13-18.

Aiken, M., Gu, L. and Wang, J., 2013. Task knowledge and task-technology fit in a virtual team. International Journal of Management, 30(1), p.3.

Cbsnews.com (2018). Hyundai's Advertising Strategy: Wait for the Fire Sales. [online] Cbsnews.com. Available at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hyundais-advertising-strategy-wait-for-the-fire-sales/ [Accessed 18 May 2018].

Diewald, S., Möller, A., Roalter, L., Stockinger, T. and Kranz, M., 2013, October. Gameful design in the automotive domain: review, outlook and challenges. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (pp. 262-265). ACM.

García-Madariaga, J. and Rodríguez-Rivera, F., 2017. Corporate social responsibility, customer satisfaction, corporate reputation, and firms’ market value: Evidence from the automobile industry. Spanish Journal of Marketing-ESIC, 21, pp.39-53.

Global Suzuki. (2018). Global Suzuki. [online] Available at: https://www.globalsuzuki.com/ [Accessed 18 May 2018].

Global.honda. (2018). Honda Global | About. [online] Available at: https://global.honda/about/ [Accessed 18 May 2018].

Harrison, R., Flood, D. and Duce, D., 2013. Usability of mobile applications: literature review and rationale for a new usability model. Journal of Interaction Science, 1(1), p.1.

Hutter, K., Hautz, J., Dennhardt, S. and Füller, J., 2013. The impact of user interactions in social media on brand awareness and purchase intention: the case of MINI on Facebook. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 22(5/6), pp.342-351.

Hyundai.com (2018). Hyundai Motor Company Worldwide website.. [online] HYUNDAI MOTORS. Available at: https://www.hyundai.com/worldwide/en [Accessed 18 May 2018].

Malthouse, E.C., Haenlein, M., Skiera, B., Wege, E. and Zhang, M., 2013. Managing customer relationships in the social media era: Introducing the social CRM house. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 27(4), pp.270-280.

Motohashi, K., 2015. Alliance-Based Global Strategy. In Global Business Strategy (pp. 107-119). Springer, Tokyo.

Mwasilu, F., Justo, J.J., Kim, E.K., Do, T.D. and Jung, J.W., 2014. Electric vehicles and smart grid interaction: A review on vehicle to grid and renewable energy sources integration. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 34, pp.501-516.

Nowak, J., 2016. Strikes and Labor Unrest in the Automobile Industry in India: The Case of Maruti Suzuki India Limited. Journal of Labor and Society, 19(3), pp.419-436.

Roth, S., 2014. The things that go without saying: on performative differences between business value communication and communication on business values. International Journal of Business Performance Management, 15(3), pp.175-191.

Schmitt, A. and Van Biesebroeck, J., 2013. Proximity strategies in outsourcing relations: The role of geographical, cultural and relational proximity in the European automotive industry. Journal of International Business Studies, 44(5), pp.475-503.

Wolny, J. and Mueller, C., 2013. Analysis of fashion consumers’ motives to engage in electronic word-of-mouth communication through social media platforms. Journal of Marketing Management, 29(5-6), pp.562-583.

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