Why Nissan is moving away from a 'traditional' marketing strategy

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 9 April 2018

Nissan is ditching its traditional marketing approach in favour of a "longer-term branding piece" targeted at the youth market.

Instead of the call to immediate action style marketing, often taken in the automotive category, Nissan's GM brand and communications Rebecca Williams tells AdNews it was ready to explore something new through a content partnership with Vice.

The six-part video series, Illuminated, is presented in partnership by the auto company and focuses on giving young people useful mental tools for success. It is set to promote the brand's latest small SUV, the Qashqai.

Broken into two streams, the series focuses on both 'Mind' and 'Matter', with each video exploring common hurdles in young people’s careers, and demonstrating how technology and psychology can help them move forward.

Williams says exploring new partnerships, like the Qashqai content series with Vice, are vital to auto brands who are struggling to capture the elusive youth market.

"It was a bit of a perfect match for us when we started to consider how we launch Qashqai into the market, a very strong product for us but also a product that is trying to reach an audience that is getting harder and harder to reach," Williams says.

"I think from a media landscape perspective, holistically, it's becoming harder and harder for marketers to reach that target audience. And that is everything from media fragmentation to just how our lives are evolving."

The shift in youth driving habits is also becoming an influential part of how Nissan is shaping its current marketing strategy, as Williams points out that getting your license is no longer a "right of passage."

She says there is a small market out there for those looking to buy a car in Australia this year, so brands must look to drive awareness for a product rather than focus entirely on end-of-month sales.

"It's not all about marketing toward a call to action because the reality is that approximately 3% of Australians will be in the market for a car this year (varying yearly) and we want to talk to anybody who will consider our brand this year, not just the ones that are in market to buy a car right now," she says.

"For me, this is a longer-term branding piece rather than something we expect to drive test drives off the back of and sell cars primarily by the end of the month. It's not so much the traditional approach, this is skewed to a long-term branding piece."

Despite the change in the auto market, Williams says she is unsure if Australia will see a time where Nissan shifts all of its efforts into content partnerships such as this current one with Vice.

She believes the decision ultimately comes down to a product differentiator, in Nissan's case its technology.

Williams says the company will continue to use technology to separate itself from the more "traditional" marketing strategies that still exist in the industry.

"Automotive marketing is probably similar to any other big industries or verticals, it can be quite traditional in its approach," she says.

"We like to talk about technology features in our car and Nissan Mobility is certainly our brand's key differentiator and something that we have as our 'red thread' through our marketing. But it is based on the target audience we are going after.

Nissan Intelligent Mobility encompasses the three core areas of the company's current driving innovation strategy, which includes how vehicles are powered, how they are driven, and how they are integrated into society.

"It's an interesting time to be in the industry because it is going through a major evolution. Which happens across the board in industries but automotive is certainly one that is doing that at the moment," Williams says.

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