Datsun advertises GO hatch as “Nayi Parampara” or ‘New Tradition/ Heritage’, but the newly resurrected brand is struggling with low sales and ‘cheap car’ image in the emerging markets.
Small car TV advertisements in India would be most often ironic, even analogous! Claims of space, comfort, and whooping mileage are a kind of cliche here. Every Maruti Suzuki TVC will have a happy woman/ wife/ girlfriend enjoying the ride and the guy flaunting himself for the car’s mileage! Some kind of family romanticism will be invoked in every Maruti ads. Or at least the Hyundai’s Eon ‘Trend Setter’ commercial must prove you how laughable small car TVCs can be.
Did you watch the latest TVC ad for the Datsun GO hatch? “Nayi Parampara” literally translates as ‘New Tradition/ Heritage’. The GO zigzags around the Altos and Wagon-Rs and the car, with the owner, is heralded as a new heritage. But the makers are quite cautious in not using the latest models of Alto and Wagon-R. You don’t find Eon, another principle rival, anywhere in the TVC. Instead a first-gen Santro gets a place, amongst all cars to be mocked by the GO hatch. I’m happy that this TVC doesn’t have any girl sentiments!
Datsun GO “Nayi Parampara” Ad: I’m not promoting this TVC, just some amusement amid sarcasm!!
But what is behind the curtain is that the ‘Datsun’ strategy of the Nissan Motor company is not quite working out thus for. In India, being the strategy’s prime test bed, SIAM reports that the company has crossed the 10,000 mark in total deliveries of the GO hatch only last month, with 9,557 units till end of August since its launch in mid-march this year. The months of May, June, and July were harsh for the GO with falling sales, worst being the July with just 607 units briefly dipping below the sales statistics of the Tata Nano in the same month. Although the sales have recovered from September and the festive season till mid-November can have positive effects, the sales record of GO is consistently poor for a small car, with Maruti Suzuki selling as many of its similarly priced Alto every couple of weeks. Leave aside the different story of the Nano.
In Indonesia too the story is not much unalike, with sales yet to pick up to meet full-year targets. Bookings for the GO hatch has just started , while the GO+ Pancas MPV which was launched earlier has clocked 6,400 deliveries so far till mid-October, with 40,000 units as target by the end of this financial year. Meanwhile Russia, another key market, can be no solace for the brand either. Thanks to the ongoing Geo-political crisis, leading to economic sanctions by the West and the effects of rolling recession on the other hand. The GO has been launched in South Africa few days back, and the company plans to enter few other markets in the Indian subcontinent by next year.
Lets put it in perspective. Indian market is vast enough in the small car segment to pose enough challenges for an upstart brand to split a fair share of pie. Though we have large number of buyers, we do have many close alternatives in the segment. Brands like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, etc. have stood the test of time to gain enough credibility among its customer base, which is an ardent task for a relatively unheard brand called Datsun. Customer sentiments towards trusted brands play an important role in this segment. Datsun is yet to gain reputation, though it shares the established dealer network of Nissan.
The GO hatch also suffers from its cost-cutting appeal. Urban buyers, who are comparatively informed, are image-conscious and prefer to pay more for a regular brand than for Datsun which is perceived as something ‘cheap’, right from its pre-launch campaigns. The GO looks cuter in many ways especially when confronted with the Nano and Alto 800. The hatch’s dimensions are pleasing, with serenity in body panels and design. The large hexagonal grille is a little blot on the overall looks of the car. But the Alto K10 and Eon are equally appealing with good looks and design. They, in fact, conceal their cost-conscious make which is blatantly visible in the Datsun hatch with cheap seats and ergonomics. The Santro and Chevy Spark are better too. It’s little hard for the GO to catch-up with Wagon-R frankly as the new TVC claims, mainly because of the latter’s ‘tall-boy’ design and whooping sales record consistently for about fifteen years till today.
#N for Neutral
Datsun has big plans for India and other emerging markets no doubt. It has already started the production of its second offering the GO+ MPV at its Chennai plant and will be unveiled early next year. The third offering to follow would be the redi-GO concept. But the Nissan’s strategy to tap middle-class markets isn’t a “Nayi Parampara” (New Tradition) as the company believes and so cannot be ruled out as a failure move. Emerging markets like India will continue to expand, in specific the small car segment. What is now apparent is that merely cheaper prices cannot assure success in these markets. People expect more value for their cars, cost-cutting takes toll on quality and content.
With this festive season and tax advantages, Datsun is sure to grow in sales volumes considerably. Globally too, Datsun has better prospects. But the company must make sure that the cost-cutting appeal of its cars are not openly visible, by offering better value-for-money. It has to improve its brand image, it cannot afford to lose anymore.
Also Read: Datsun and the Middle Class
Photo credit: Whotalking,Ateen, Automobile Planet