Japanese carmaker Nissan’s two-brand strategy with subsidiary Datsun will be critical in strengthening its presence in India as it embarks on an aggressive launch programme this festive season.
As a part of its brand positioning strategy, models priced below Rs 10 lakh will slot under the Datsun brand, while models above that mark will be sold under the Nissan brand, Thomas Kuehl, president, Nissan India Operations, told Autocar India in an interview. Nissan is presently positioned as an urban brand while Datsun cars are aimed more for Tier II markets.
“So, with our two brands, our strategy is to have Datsun cater to the sub-Rs 10 lakh mark, and you will see an SUV there,” Kuehl said. “Nissan will play more in the premium field and the Kicks will launch in this fiscal,” he added.
The company’s rationale behind this positioning strategy is to leverage the presence of two brands, where Datsun will have models that focus on lower cost of running to cater to the younger buyers and first-time car buyers while Nissan will have relatively more premium models as well as cars with electric and hybrid technology. Nissan is gearing up to launch the Leaf EV in India and is also keen to get the Note e-Power range extender as a locally assembled model.
Moreover, Nissan will also focus on newer technologies underscored currently by the Nissan Connect telematics suite that the carmaker offers with its cars.
“We have a great competitive advantage with the Nissan-Datsun brands as we are able to cater to different segments. Datsun will focus on progressive mobility, catering to the first-time car buyer, and with Nissan, we want focus on models above Rs 10 lakh, so there will be SUVs and sedans that will be competitive and driven by capability and innovation,” Kuehl said.
However, the implications of focusing only on models above Rs 10 lakh indicates that there will no direct successor to the Micra and Sunny.
The new twin brand strategy could also put emphasis on Datsun’s role as a volume brand for Nissan as the company strives to drive growth and improve market share. The Datsun brand already accounts for nearly 65 percent of total sales. Combined, the brands sold 52,796 units in the 2018 fiscal (Datsun: 34,169 units, Nissan: 18,627 units), down from 57,300 units in the previous year. Market share slipped to 1.61 percent from 1.88 percent in the same timeframe.
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