Datsun India is looking at going beyond tier-II markets through experimental Datsun points. The company, a subsidiary of Japanese car maker Nissan, plans to grow in India and targets a five per cent market share by 2020. Jerome Saigot, vice-president at Datsun India, tells Sesa Sen that the company would launch eight new products by 2021. Edited excerpts:
What was the strategy behind the redi-GO 1-litre hatchback?
Datsun redi-GO 1.0L iSAT reinforces Datsun’s commitment to a solid offer in the heart of the entry-level hatchback segment. Since its launch in July 2017, we have received a great response for the car and we look forward to building on the momentum during the upcoming festive season across the country.
Is there enough awareness among buyers about the Datsun brand?
As a relatively recent entrant to the market in India, raising awareness is a challenge given the overwhelming dominance of a major competitor who commands the majority of market share in the passenger vehicle segment. The competition among brands for the attention of their products by consumers is quite fierce. Having said that, at Datsun, we are working hard to be nimble and unconventional in our brand-building activities.
To stand out in the very dynamic Indian automotive industry, it is important for brands to connect with consumers in innovative ways. Datsun’s latest ‘Vote For Change’ campaign — based on the theme of elections — is our latest attempt to break through. Since June this year, we have had an action-packed marketing campaign, which has created a new benchmark in the auto industry.
How are you expanding in the rural market?
We believe there is growth potential in the Indian market, especially in the hinterland, which we aim to tap by establishing more touch-points. Our products, too, are engineered to meet the needs of our customers who live beyond the metros. This includes expanding our sales network with Datsun dedicated outlets and Rural Dealer Sales Executives (RDSE). Additionally, our tie-up with MyTVS, for example, will allow us to offer peace of mind for our customers when it comes to servicing their cars in places Nissan/Datsun are not represented so far.
From the context of the Indian market, what kind of reactions have you witnessed from customers with respect to new variants?
Indian customers expect a good value proposition, stylish design and feature-rich cars. Keeping this in mind, we decided to offer products which could cater to not just the needs but also the desires of first-time car buyers. With the new addition of the more powerful version with the 1.0L engine, we believe Datsun redi-GO will attract an even wider audience to the brand. India is Datsun’s largest market in the world. Datsun today accounts for more than half of the total sales of Nissan Motor in India and is steadily growing.
Do you foresee any roadblocks while competing in the entry-level segment?
Our future challenges include cost optimisation and increasing focus on environmental concerns. In the rising competitive market, auto companies will have to focus on increased environmental safety concerns and ease of ownership.