Does Datsun have enough Go for the Indian market?

Datsun is just weeks away from launching its first car in the Indian market, the Go hatchback. This car will be priced under Rs. 4 lakh and will be competing in a high volume segment against established players like Maruti and Hyundai. The marketing folks at Datsun definitely have a tough task cut out for them if this car is to make a mark in India. Datsun cars will be retailed alongside Nissan cars in most cities and are produced in the same factory in Chennai. On the sidelines of the recently concluded Auto Expo, we caught up with Tomonori Muto, International Marketing Manager, Datsun. In a quick interview, we asked him just how Datsun plans to sell the Go in the highly competitive hatchback segment. Excerpts from the interview.

CarToq: Muto san, with the Datsun Go, you are entering a segment that is price conscious, and you are trying to bring in a car that is different in what it offers. What kind of research went into it and what kind of buyers do you expect for it?

Tomonori Muto: We are looking at people who are not typical Nissan customers. Nissan customers are slightly higher end. And also the market area also is not necessarily tier one, but we also want to cover tier two and tier three, where some brands have not been particularly strong. So, in that sense, we are expanding our customer reach. And also in terms of communication, we are seeing how to communicate the attractiveness of this car. We are especially keen on how we communicate about this car (the Datsun Go).

CarToq: How are you going to differentiate the two brands now? Datsun and Nissan are going to be retailed together. Will Datsun be positioned as a low-cost option and Nissan as a premium option?

Muto: In terms of pricing, the range is different, but we don’t regard Datsun as a cheaper Nissan. The Datsun Go was designed especially for Datsun, developed for Datsun, and we have different characteristics in terms of design or features, so I think both brands will appeal to different target customers. There may be some customers who might compare these two models (between Nissan and Datsun). But I think we are giving the customer a wider option. In terms of the sales environment, Datsun’s space will be branded differently. Nissan’s space and Datsun’s space will be very different.

CarToq: For the Datsun Go+ MPV that will follow the Go, what kind of target profile are you looking at?

Muto: The Datsun Go is primarily looking at young families, who are moving into a different stage in their lives. And Go+ has much more capacity, it’s a three (row) seater. So maybe it can be used for bigger families to provide additional value, from the additional seats.

CarToq: Will the Go+ be aimed at families or will it be for the commercial segment?

Muto: Totally, totally family only. Not for commercial use. We don’t want to position Datsun as a commercial vehicle.

CarToq: What kind of campaigning are you doing to build the Datsun brand name in India?

Muto: Currently we are conducting a nationwide roadshow of the Datsun Go in 90 cities. We are providing customers the opportunity to actually touch and feel the Datsun Go. Already more than 100,000 people have seen the car. And the feedback is quite positive. We have also started a TV campaign from mid-January. We want to first create awareness about the brand name. We are looking at another campaign at the time of launch, which is very soon.

CarToq: What other products from the Datsun portfolio are you looking at for the Indian market? What about the Redi-Go concept, when will that go into production?

Muto: The Redi-Go concept is much more energetic and uniquely styled, and we will be targeting a younger customer. Right now it is just a concept, but in production, we will have to see how we position it.

CarToq: What kind of sales volumes to you expect Datsun Go to chalk up?

Muto: We don’t talk numbers or volumes as such, but in the mid-term we are looking at a 10% market share in India, by 2017 for Nissan. Hopefully, with Datsun we hope to have a similar level of market share by then.

CarToq: The Go is entering a high-volume segment, which has some pretty tough competition as well. How are you planning to differentiate the car? Spares and service perhaps?

Muto: Yes, it’s not only about the vehicle, we are also working on various aspects of after sales and services. We are trying to achieve better part prices and not only prices, we are also trying to improve service efficiency, so that the time required for maintenance is shorter.

Also read: Datsun showcases Go, Go+ and Redi-Go concept at Auto Expo 2014 

Also watch the video report with Ashwani Gupta, Global programme director, Datsun: