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Could this card change the way you look at Mazdas forever?

Customer reward programmes are entering the mainstream with brands such as Mazda and BMW Motorrad getting into the act.

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Customers who hold a Dezire card are entitled to priority booking for servicing, and get S$1,000 in aftersales vouchers, but some of the rewards are more lifestyle-focused.

Singapore

WHERE to go when you've just taken delivery of your shiny new car? If it's a Mazda, your first stop might well be a private watch appreciation workshop or a staycation at an Accor hotel.

These are some of the perks that come with Dezire, a rewards programme that Mazda distributor Eurokars Group launched here last month. It bundles three years of benefits and events with ownership of the brand's more expensive models, namely the Mazda 6, CX-5, CX-9 and the MX-5 RF.

Customers who hold a Dezire card are entitled to priority booking for servicing, and get S$1,000 in aftersales vouchers, but some of the rewards are more lifestyle-focused; the programme includes a year of Accor Plus membership, for example, which gives customers a night's free stay at participating hotels in the Asia-Pacific region, dining vouchers, discounts on rooms and selected restaurants, among other perks.

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Many benefits are an extension of Mazda's ongoing customer loyalty efforts, such as driveaway holidays to Malaysia and wine tasting events. "These are things we already do, but now we are going to do it on a more regular basis," says David Chung, the senior marketing manager for Mazda at Eurokars.

Dezire is still at an early stage, he says, and the company plans to steadily expand the number of events and benefits on offer. "It's only going to grow, and we will cater to interests as they evolve over time," says Mr Chung.

Such loyalty programmes have been rolled out on a varying scale by other car brands. Audi's "myAudiworld" package is likely the most comprehensive of these, with 12,000 people now on its membership roll after its launch in 2014. The Audi drivers are grouped into six membership tiers, and the programme offers as many as 50 events a year.

A spokesperson for Audi says the more popular activities are movie nights, dining experiences and driveaways to Malaysia.

Even motorcycle dealers are starting to get in on the act. BMW Motorrad distributor Performance Motors will organise six rideaway trips this year for customers, for example, with fly-and-ride events planned for places as far away as Taiwan or Germany.

Closer to home, the bike retailer is planning an overnight camping trip for riders in April. Such events are about helping BMW riders get the most out of their machines without the daunting prospect of organising things on their own.

"Experience programmes for clients are always a key focus for BMW. It's still a lifestyle brand, and by doing these programmes we also want to give clients the opportunity to be able to go on rides in a more sheltered environment," says Anthony Chaw, the head of Performance Motors' Motorrad unit.

Overall, the main objective of such loyalty programmes is just that: to build customer loyalty, by giving owners access to experiences that they can share as a privileged group.

But more specifically, they are also a way for authorised dealers to differentiate themselves from parallel importers.

For example, although buying a used Audi entitles you to myAudiworld membership, getting one from a parallel importer does not.

While riding a BMW from a parallel importer does not close the door on riding holidays organised by Performance Motors, the company's own customers enjoy a "highly subsidised" rate when they participate, says Mr Chaw.

In Mazda's case, the Dezire programme is also meant to elevate the brand's status by fostering the notion that driving a certain Mazda model will give you access to a certain lifestyle. "It's in line with our strategy to move away from being price-focused. Buying our cars should not be a decision based on price, which is quite traditional in the mass-market segment," says Eurokars' Mr Chung.

Ultimately, dealers are hoping to build customer goodwill by putting a new twist on an old idea: have wheels, will travel, but have our wheels, will travel in style.