Nissan and Datsun aren’t terribly old in India; since their launch, the two car brands from the Nissan Motor India stable have distinctly targeted two different customer sets. While for Nissan, the focus is on tier I and metros, Datsun is looking to make deeper inroads into the heart of the country. Jerome Saigot of Nissan Motor India speaks with BrandWagon’s Shinmin Bali on the small town push for Datsun, the 2020 aim and becoming an ‘accessible’ brand.
Nissan and Datsun aren’t terribly old in India; since their launch, the two car brands from the Nissan Motor India stable have distinctly targeted two different customer sets. While for Nissan, the focus is on tier I and metros, Datsun is looking to make deeper inroads into the heart of the country. Jerome Saigot of Nissan Motor India speaks with BrandWagon’s Shinmin Bali on the small town push for Datsun, the 2020 aim and becoming an ‘accessible’ brand. Edited excerpts:
In an already crowded automobile market, who are Nissan and Datsun catering to?
They are both completely different cars. We have customers across tier I, II and III cities where we are receiving very good traction. Datsun finds its consumers in the 25-35 year-old segment. Its USP is cabin space or the ground clearance which is what tier II and III customers look for. We are targeting the young generation where the consumer segment does not want to spend more than Rs 4-5 lakh on a car. Also, this segment finds offers and discounts attractive for automobiles. Before we entered the market, consumers did not have a lot of options that fell under Rs 3 lakh; we challenged this when we launched Datsun. In Cochin, we are getting a very good response. In the North East, it is doing extremely well, much above the national average.
We are the most accessible brand in the market. When I say accessible, I do not mean cheap. When we say accessible, we also mean easy to service. For the first three years of ownership, we do not want our tier II and III customers to worry about anything. On top of all this, we are also affordable. We are expanding our presence for Datsun in tier II and III cities in an ambitious manner. For outlets across these cities, we are looking to reach 150 outlets by the end of the current financial year. From here, we want to go to 200-250 outlets in tier II and III cities. This will help bring the brand closer to our customers and easy to finance. To encourage uptake in these markets, we are offering a 7.99% interest rate to our customers. This is in addition to a down payment price to the tune of Rs 30,000.
Nissan is all about technology and excitement. We want to be the most exciting Japanese brand. By exciting we mean that consumers share the energy and thrill of driving our cars. The Nissan Micra Fashion Edition that we launched recently is a perfect example of this. The Nissan Connect platform which launched a few months ago is another example. It has technology which allows customers to be completely connected with their cars and we are providing more than 50 features within the application.
Is the urban/metro market saturated for Datsun’s growth aspirations?
We are a baby in the Indian market and it is the beginning phase for us; a three-year old brand in India currently and we are in the top 10. We are growing; we need to keep this pace, bring in more customers, make the brand more known and make it about deepening the relationship that consumers have with us. The aim is to have 5% market share by 2020-21.
What are your on-ground expectations towards that? How are you making the dealer network more robust?
Both brands have their own identity and strategy. They are both highly differentiated, speak in their own
language and carry their own message. Currently, the market share is split between Nissan at 60% and Datsun at 40%. By 2020-21, we are expecting it to be an equal play with a 50:50 split.We are in constant touch with dealers to understand the on-ground feedback, to figure out how to provide the best customer satisfaction. Nissan Motor India is already present in 175 cities through 270 sales and service touchpoints. Datsun is strongly focussed on increasing the reach and strengthening the dealer network especially in tier II and III cities. We have introduced the 1S Dedicated Datsun outlet concept to penetrate into tier II and III cities. We have plans to open 170 standalone Datsun outlets by the end of this fiscal.
What are the marketing and advertising efforts to push Nissan and Datsun?
Both brands put a lot of efforts on digital as per our strategy. Nissan, especially, focusses on experiential. With Datsun, we focus on being disruptive. We want to be a digital leader. We spend 25% of our budget on digital.
In 2015, Nissan signed an eight-year deal with the ICC further strengthening its ties with the global sport. The agreement runs through 2023 and Nissan will be a global sponsor of cricket’s international tournaments, including the ICC Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy, ICC World Twenty20, Under 19 and Women’s and qualifying events. The partnership allows Nissan to bring its innovative and fan-focussed approach to millions of cricket lovers around the world.
Datsun’s products also offer high localisation and India-friendly features that appeal to young achievers in India. We focus on a mix of mediums — largely television, digital and experiential — for the Datsun brand to reach the masses. We continue to focus strongly on the digital space for Datsun and continue our on-ground initiatives. For example, we recently concluded the second phase of ‘Datsun Experience Zone’ wherein four specially-designed canter vans visited various tier II and III locations throughout India to engage with people and inform them about the brand. The Experience Zone initiative has enabled us to go directly to customers in places where we are not physically present with our dealerships.
What are the business realities of operating in a market such as India?
We see India as an engine of growth in the global automotive market. India is a dynamic market and customers here expect a good value proposition, stylish design and feature-rich cars. Keeping this in mind, we decided to offer products which could cater to not just the needs but also the desires of first-time car buyers. Datsun redi-GO is our response to this market need. We believe there is growth potential in the Indian market, especially in
the hinterland, which we aim to tap by establishing more touchpoints in such places — our products are engineered to also meet the needs of our customers who live beyond metros.