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Nissan spins a yarn to spin a buck

Storyteller: Andy Palmer believes Nissan is all about innovation and excitement.

Global VP believes a newfound ability for new cars to tell a story underpins growth

12 Dec 2011


NISSAN claims that its cars will now better communicate “affordable excitement” and innovation as the company strives to increase global sales from about 4.8 million units this year to 7.6 million by the end of 2016.

Speaking at a round-table conference at the Tokyo Motor Show late last month, executive vice-president Andy Palmer said the company is discovering how to “tell stories” that customers want to hear.

No fewer than 51 all-new or completely redesigned models will underpin Nissan’s ambitious volume growth – which is already up from 3.6 million cars in 2009, despite the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand – over the next five years.

Under its ‘Power 88’ plan, announced in June, Nissan says it aims to achieve a global market share of eight per cent by the end of fiscal year 2016 (ending March 31, 2017) and increase corporate operating profit to a sustainable eight per cent.

“It’s what Nissan is about,” Mr Palmer said. “People ask us why we are doing that, and the answer is because we can.

“And it’s obviously great cars that gives us the ability to talk about the products and what the products stand for in greater clarification.

 center imageLeft: Nissan Leaf

“Power 88 talks about the power of the brand, and we need to start resonating around what the brand stands for and what it doesn’t stand for, and how it’s different from Toyota, Honda and VW, for example.

“One of the things that Nissan and to some extent the Japanese car industry builds on is the skill of making things.

“What we’ve always been weak on is the art of storytelling. What Power 88 is trying to do is reinforce storytelling behind (the new models Nissan is launching).

“We only have one DNA, and that is about innovation and excitement for everyone. And everything that we do needs to have a component of that story.”

Mr Palmer believes that the current batch of Nissans is already successfully communicating the core brand DNA despite outwardly very different pricing, positioning, packaging and design.

“In the case of Leaf, for example, it is the pinnacle of innovation and it’s actually quite exciting to drive, and its pricing is quite realistic, so a lot of people can buy it,” he said.

“And if you talk about excitement, I would say GT-R is the pinnacle of excitement, but it is pretty innovative, and where we’ve priced it is accessible to many people.

“The thing that has happened over the last few years which has helped with our growth is that we’ve managed to bring some clarity to the brand we know what we stand for, and therefore we know that we can design a portfolio of cars … but with a common theme, a common direction and a common story. That’s how you get cars like Juke, Leaf, GT-R all coming from the same company.”

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