It’s perhaps the right route for this Japanese auto major to ensure a smooth journey in India
“Some people even ask us whether Nissan is an American company,” Abhijeet Pandit, VP – Sales, Marketing & After Sales, Hover Automotive India (a company that takes care of the Sales, Service, Parts, Marketing & Dealer Development functions for Nissan in India) tells 4Ps B&M. In fact, such a query from Indian consumers is more than obvious as they have not been engrossed with this Japanese auto major at a level at which they have experienced, let’s say, a Toyota or a Honda (Nissan’s Japanese counterparts) in the domestic market.

While the latter two made their way to the Indian shores in the 1990s, Nissan came in as late as 2005 with the launch of its SUV X-Trail, followed by Teana and 370Z. However, all three models were Completely Build Units positioned in the premium segment and hence attracted low volumes.

But with the launch of its first Complete Knocked Down (CKD) product, Micra, the company has got aggressive with its marketing plans for India and is trying to gain a considerable space in the minds of consumers. In fact, Nissan is targeting to sell close to one lakh units by the end of 2013 in the domestic market, which means a market share of about 5%. Although with sales of 6.1 million vehicles in 2009, the Renault-Nissan alliance ranks fourth in the world, it has somehow not been able to repeat that magic when it comes to India. This makes one think whether Micra really will be able to pull it up for Nissan in India? And that too when everything, from sales to service, has been outsourced to a third party? “For Nissan’s expats to come from Japan and understand the market would have taken more time. So Nissan decided to give the business to someone who understands the country, as vast as India, very well,” says Pandit.

In fact, Nissan has so far used exposure marketing as a very effective tool to increase the awareness among the Indian consumers. Be it the introduction of Ranbir Kapoor as the brand ambassador or the host of BTL activities done by the company, the Japanese automaker is ensuring that it gets up, close & personal with the Indian consumer. For instance, the company used the wired frame of the Micra and several kiosks to create the buzz before the product was actually launched in the market. In fact, the activities paid off well too as Nissan got close to 2,000 bookings prior to the official launch of the product in the domestic market. Going forward, the company is gung ho about its focus on the digital space to raise the awareness. “Digital marketing is a wise option to market the Nissan brand in the country as one can easily get to know how much return he is getting against his investments,” explains Pandit. In fact, the company is planning an online interactive campaign for the Micra in the coming months and will be doing similar campaigns for the other products and for the Nissan brand as a whole as well.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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