Suzuki Samurai Essay

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Harvard Business School 9-589-028 Rev. October 5, 1992 Suzuki Samuri In June 1985, Leonard Pearlstein, president and CEO of keye/donna/pearlstein advertising agency, and his colleagues were finalizing the presentation that they would make the next day to Douglas Mazza, vice president and general manager of American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC). Pearlstein’s agency was competing with a half-dozen other advertising firms to represent Suzuki’s new entrant into the U.S. automobile market, the Suzuki Samurai. Mazza had asked each agency the question: “How do you feel this vehicle should be positioned?” He had given keye/donna/pearlstein eight days to prepare an answer. Company Background Suzuki Loom Works, a privately owned loom manufacturing company, was founded in 1909 in Hamamatsu, Japan, by Michio Suzuki. In 1952, the company began manufacturing and marketing a 2-cycle, 36 cubic centimeter (cc) motorcycle, which became so popular that in 1954 the company introduced a second motorcycle and changed its name to Suzuki Motor Company, Ltd. (Suzuki). During the late 1950s, lightweight vehicle sales boomed in Japan. Suzuki’s motorcycle business grew, and in 1959 it introduced a lightweight van. The van’s success encouraged Suzuki to develop lightweight cars and trucks. In 1961, it introduced its first production car, the “Suzulight,” the first Japanese car with a 2-stroke engine. In 1964 Suzuki began exporting motorcycles to the United States, where it established a wholly owned subsidiary, U.S. Suzuki Motor Company, Ltd., to serve as the exclusive importer and distributor of Suzuki motorcycles. Suzuki quickly established itself as a major brand in the U.S. motorcycle industry. By 1965, Suzuki’s product line included motorcycles, automobiles, motorized wheelchairs, outboard motors, general-purpose engines, generators, water pumps, and prefabricated houses. The

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