Brand Review: Nissan
Since their alliance with Renault in 2013, the Nissan Motor Company have been named the fourth biggest automaker in the world. However, we wanted to find out whether the public thought that Nissan were worthy of their international status. Thus, we asked a panel of UK consumers to talk about their perception of the brand in the market. We also asked them to explain any first-hand experiences they had of Nissan vehicles.
What are Nissan doing well?
To gage an understanding of Nissan’s brand identity, we begun by asking the panel ‘how would you describe the Nissan brand?’. The results were overwhelmingly positive. For the majority of respondents, the first adjectives that came to mind were ‘economical’, ‘technologically advanced’, ‘safe’, ‘reliable’ and ‘stylish’. Certainly, these descriptions indicate that Nissan have successfully designed products that meet a range of different criteria that consumers set when they are looking to purchase a vehicle.
As expected, many of our panel claimed that the upfront cost was the most important factor that they considered when purchasing a car. Nissan vehicles span a wide price range, as brand new vehicles start at a cost of £8,995 and and go up to a whopping £78,303.
That said, a large number of people on the panel were adamant that Nissan models were affordable. These comments were made in particular reference to the smaller models such as the Micra and Note, as well as larger models such as the Duke.
“They provide good value in a very competitive market” (Paul, 40, Hayes).
In addition, those who currently or previously owned a Nissan vehicle discussed how the running costs where generally lower than other brands. A selection of the panel argued that smaller Nissan vehicles were cheap to insure, were economical on fuel and had lower repair costs. According to these respondents, this meant that Nissan vehicles were a reliable purchase.
“It’s economical, it’s small, it was cheap to buy, run and insure” (Elizabeth, 32, Sherborne).
“They are such a popular brand, so all the parts and services are really reasonably priced too” (Fil, 36, Chesterfield).
Japanese cars have a reputation for their state-of-the-art engineering and innovative technology and Nissan are no exception.
A large number of our panel were familiar with the new Nissan Leaf, which is an electric vehicle. The electric car was particularly favoured by members of the panel who were over 50. In addition to it’s electrical engine, the Leaf also boasts a high-tech interior. It has a telematics and navigation system which can be operated from the driver’s smartphone, as well as a remote controlled air-conditioning system. Our research showed that consumers were excited by
these functions and aspired to own a car of this calibre.
“I think Nissan are really coming to the floor now with their electric cars. I’d love to own an electric car and the engines on Nissan models are far superior” (David, 65, Sale).
However, it is not just Nissan’s electric vehicles that have been dressed up with additional features. The Nissan Micra, for example, has an impressive number of safety features including; a whopping six airbags, ESP and head restraints. As a result, a number of the respondents commented that they felt that Nissan cars were sturdy and safe on account of these additional features.
“They do good features inside compared to other brands. For example, the headrests and seat-warmers” (Michael, 36, Runcorn).
Furthermore, Nissan are known for the innovative designs of their different models. The panel highlighted this as one of the brands major strengths. They felt that the designs are distinctive and unique to the Nissan brand, which ultimately strengthens the brand’s identity within the market.
“Their cars are well-presented. They look nice. I like the designs because they’re really modern” (Josh, 25, Barnet).
“I really like the style of their cars. They really push the envelope with the designs, as they are quite quirky Particularly the Nissan Duke” (Juliana, 21, Enfield).
“The Duke looks really sporty and is definitely something I’ve looked into buying” (Kerry, 32, Colchester).
How could the Nissan brand improve?
Despite the positive feedback we received from the panel, the panel also shared their criticisms of the brand. Consequently, we were able to identify several weak areas where the brand. If improved, these weaknesses could potentially heighten the public perception of the brand.
When asked how Nissan could improve, the most cited area was advertising and marketing. A large number of the panel felt that there was a notable lack of advertising for the Nissan brand. In fact, few people could recall seeing any television advertisements for any Nissan vehicles in the last twelve months. As a result, the panel claimed that the brand lacked visibility in the market, particularly compared with brands such as Audi which produce a significant number of adverts.
Moreover, a considerable number of the panel stated that they felt that Nissan targeted their offering at families and those who were middle-aged. Several respondents in their early twenties stated that they would not purchase a Nissan vehicle because they were ‘for older people’ and ‘not trendy’. This is likely to be a consequence of the lack of effective marketing for each vehicle because it has left many consumers unaware of the range of vehicles that are offered by Nissan.
To overcome this perception, Nissan should endeavour to increase their marketing to showcase the wide range of vehicles they sell. They could emphasise their modern, sporty vehicles which are targeted at younger consumers, as well as their larger vehicles which are suitable for families. This would demonstrate that they are a brand which can suit all generations.
“They could play up their sporty side more. The 3WZ is really good, but I never see any advertising for it on the tele. I definitely think there’s an opportunity to make more of it” (Kelly, 32, Bury).
“I think they need to become a bit more modern, maybe they could target their adverts more to younger people” (Donna, 32, Barnsley).
Whilst the majority of respondents held a fairly positive opinion of the quality of Nissan vehicles, a small number of people (who had previously owned Nissans) argued that the cars were made of less solid materials than other brands. Thus, the vehicles were more likely to break down or become damaged. These comments mainly referred to smaller Nissan vehicles. Therefore, Nissan need to ensure that cheaper pricing does not come at the cost the vehicle build quality.
“I think one thing they could improve on is build quality. I recently swapped from Nissan to VW because I found them to be more sturdy, robust and have less roll when I’m driving” (Raj, 42, Barnet).
Our research suggests that Nissan have an extremely positive public reputation. According to our panel, the brand’s strengths lie in the economical value of their products, the technological features (internal and external) and their exterior appearance. However, in order to maintain their position in the market, Nissan need to ensure they are producing regular advertising campaigns, which market their full range of vehicles to a number of different target audiences. If this is done effectively the Nissan could secure a greater number of sales to younger consumers.