Q] Nissan India has diversified into EVs with its hybrid offerings unveiled recently. Do you think that the Indian market is truly ready for EVs in terms of infrastructure and logistics support?
The good thing is that we can see a really good trend in the marketplace since last year in terms of transformation towards electrification. Also, the government is laying down the foundation for electrification. At present, the infrastructure is limited and is yet to be built up (same situation across markets), but we see a lot of investments, a lot of activities taking place across the industry, supported not only by the government, but also by the OEMs and suppliers. Even at the Auto Expo, we saw many OEMs moving towards electrification. So currently, we can see some good movement at the marketplace. When it comes to hybrid and EV, Nissan is a global leader in electrification, and we have a suite of technologies. So, it’s a fantastic transition all the way from ICE (internal combustion engines) to EV with every possible solution for the customer.
Q] Do you think the cost factor generally associated with the EVs or hybrids would be a problem in the domestic market?
Cost would always be a factor of course, like in any market, and the Indian market is very price sensitive. But essentially, with the economies of scale, you’ll see costs coming down across the industry. With more cars being produced in the electrification space, we’ll also be seeing the tipping point where EV will become as affordable as ICE in the years to come. Like any other technology, at the beginning there’s always a high price in terms of introduction, because of scale. But with scale coming in, we may see that tipping point sometime around 2024-25 where EVs would be at par with ICEs in terms of price.
Q] How’s Nissan India ramping up its go-to-market strategies to improve penetration for its upcoming models? What will be the marketing communication approach?
Nissan India organised the multi-city Nissan Move Beyond Golf tournament last year in the month of December. With this we would like to take the next step for the Nissan business in India. It will be a phase-wise approach in a very structured and organized way to understand consumer sentiments, media sentiments, dealer feedback, and then of course move into testing and introduction of cars. So, we have showcased three of the most successful premium SUVs that we believe have a large appetite for the Indian market, based on previous feedback from dealers, customers, and the media. They are the all-new X-trail, the Qashqai, and the Juke. Interestingly, for the first time we have showcased a car here in such a short span of time after the global launch. This again re-emphasizes that India is a strategic and important market for us. We showcased the X-Trail in India just two months after it was done in Japan, and one month after Europe.
On top of that, we’re currently doing a multi-city tour to bring the brand experience to our customers more on a regional basis. India being a very highly diverse and large country, it is vital to bring cars to different locations- like we did recently in Delhi NCR, Noida, and Chennai. We will further have a tour across Mumbai and other cities as well. So, the next step is to bring the cars closer to our customers, and based on the feedback, it has been really good.
Q] You were also associated with the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, where Nissan Magnite was the official car of the tournament, what was the thought behind that?
Well, cricket is of course the Number 1 sport in India. We know that, and we really like to be where our customers are. We have this beautiful association with ICC cricket globally, and of course India being champions in cricket globally, we are very keen on leveraging that partnership here. At the end of the day, it’s also about creating the brand experience and the right platform to engage with our customers. Cricket is a good platform for collaboration, so, we are doing various associations.
Q] What’s the media planning mix going to be for the new models? Please share your TG for the latest models in India.
We will spend 20% - 30% of our marketing budget on Digital. Because we are a niche brand, one of the ways is to go traditional in terms of advertising while the other is to go into social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and also at on-site events to engage with our audiences. Furthermore, we need to be very digital-focused for connecting with them. There’s a new marketing approach that is being planned as we speak. However, when we talk about the premium customer, experiential is stronger because that’s the way to be engaging specifically with a premium car buyer. So on-site with a brand experience, against a more mass-market approach.
Q] Can you share your learnings from the two years of the pandemic? How did the brand perform in the face of several constraints, such as the lockdown and chip induced supply chain crisis, to name a few?
Both the pandemic, and the semiconductor situation came around at the same time, doubly impacting us across the markets. For the first time we couldn’t engage with our customers directly or physically in the dealerships. We have a dealer distribution network on site with the showroom, which was closed because of the pandemic. However, that’s when new emerging technologies came up. We focused more on e-commerce, online activities, online booking, online service, and various other engagements to digitally connect with our customers because we couldn’t engage with them physically. This was a really good learning, and it accelerated what we had always anticipated. It just fast-tracked the Digital transformation with the pandemic coming in.
Q] What is the market outlook on the automobile sector post-pandemic with the high inflation and changing consumer sentiment?
In terms of the automotive industry, we can see a big comeback. In fact, after China and the US, we see India as a strong Number 3 player globally in terms of automotive space, which is a huge jump. So, it’s phenomenal how the automotive industry bounced back, and that too within a short span of time when we just had COVID, and took over Japan, and even Germany. So, the market is very big, the potential is even bigger. The market came back significantly with tremendous recovery in terms of new products. The consumer demand is definitely there. If you look at the demographics in India, the segmentation and the growth of wealth as well in the household income, you’ll see a large potential in the coming years to further improve for the automotive industry.
Q] What is the road map ahead for the company in 2023 in terms of the company’s vision gearing up for growth?
Our focus will be on Digital, not only in terms of customer engagement pre-sales, but also post-sales, all the way until service. E-commerce is of course one piece of the puzzle, but the overarching Digital experience is going to be the backbone of the customer experience going forward, supported by physical customer experiences.
Apart from that, building the brand is very important for us. There’s so much more potential in terms of brand storytelling for Nissan in India, and that’s something that we’re going to focus on – to explain what Nissan stands for, and what it means for the customer.