2 Years Af­ter Re­vival, Dat­sun Gets Ready for a Go at Alto

The Economic Times - - Business Of Brands -

Sharmistha Mukher­jee & J Srikant

New Delhi: Dat­sun, the brand that Nis­san re­vived af­ter three decades in 2013, is hop­ing to catch the sales mo­men­tum it so far missed, with the redi-GO com­pact car get­ting ready to hit the roads in June. In In­dia, it is tar­get­ing the mar­ket that Maruti Suzuki’s Alto com­mands, sell­ing about 20,000 units a month.

Dat­sun is be­ing sold in In­dia, In­done­sia, Rus­sia and South Africa. Com­bined sales in th­ese mar­kets grew more than 70% to about 86,000 cars in 2015 from 50,000 the year be­fore, but are way off the tar­gets Nis­san had set for the brand. Un­der Nis­san's Power 88 plan for 2016, it es­ti­mated Dat­sun to bring in sig­nif­i­cant in­cre­men­tal vol­umes. In In­dia, the aim was to sell 2 lakh units a year by 2016-17, but cu­mu­la­tive sales in the past two years haven’t crossed 50,000. The com­pany wants to change that now.

“We are a two-year-old brand. We could have done bet­ter with sales of the GO but our un­der­stand­ing of the mar­ket is evolv­ing,” said Guil­lau- me Si­card, pres­i­dent-oper­a­tions at Nis­san In­dia. “With the redi-GO, we will tar­get the Alto seg­ment. We will ramp up our dis­tri­bu­tion and in­crease net­work cov­er­age to tar­get cus­tomers.”

Guil­laume said though In­dian cus­tomers, es­pe­cially at the en­try-level, of­ten pre­fer es­tab­lished brands, the suc­cess of ve­hi­cles like the Re­nault Kwid has shown there is “room to break away from tra­di­tion if the right prod­uct is of­fered at the right price.” The Kwid has recorded book­ing of more than 1 lakh cars since Re­nault, Nis­san’s al­liance part­ner, launched the hatch­back six months ago. On Thurs­day, Dat­sun made the global premiere of the redi-GO in New Delhi. Its top com­peti­tors will be the Alto 800 and Hyundai Eon, which are priced be­tween .₹ 2.5 lakh and .₹ 4.4 lakh.

Si­card said while the ac­cep­tance of Dat­sun prod­ucts has been good in In­dia, brand aware­ness is an is­sue. “We are sell­ing Dat­sun in South Africa, Rus­sia, In­done­sia and In­dia. Un­like in other mar­kets, Dat­sun is a new brand in In­dia. Our cus­tomers are sat­is­fied. We were am­bi­tious in set­ting our tar­gets given it’s a new brand and we had to start from scratch. We are now look­ing at a 5% mar­ket share be­tween Dat­sun and Nis­san by 2020,” he said.

To re­alise it ob­jec­tive of sell­ing 2.5 lakh ve­hi­cles (both Nis­san and Dat­sun) per an­num in the next four years in In­dia, the com­pany is work­ing on en­hanc­ing the reach and net­work cov­er­age. In the cur­rent fis­cal year, Nis­san plans to add 80 out­lets, a num­ber of which will be for Dat­sun. Nis­san is aim­ing to have 300 out­lets by the year-end. “There is def­i­nitely po­ten­tial for Dat­sun to scale up. But right now there prod­uct port­fo­lio is limited when com­pared to com­pe­ti­tion,” said Ab­dul Ma­jeed, part­ner at Price Water­house. “They need mul­ti­ple prod­ucts in a seg­ment to grow brand re­call. Dat­sun also needs to work on its dis­tri­bu­tion to be present across ur­ban and ru­ral pock­ets. Be­sides, good af­ter-mar­ket is cru­cial to gain cus­tomer trust and ac­cep­tance.”

The redi-GO is the third ve­hi­cle un­der the re­vived Dat­sun brand and has come up on a new plat­form de­vel­oped in In­dia. Last year, the auto maker launched a com­pact multi-pur­pose ve­hi­cle, GO+, to add to small car GO. The com­pany is ex­pand­ing its port­fo­lio to tar­get cus­tomers in small towns to boost sales of its Dat­sun brand of ve­hi­cles.

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