In conversation with Nissan's Indian MD Rakesh Srivatsava, who sheds light on the company's various strategies in the volatile automobile sector.
From driver-assistance technology to supporting the global EV revolution, Japanese multinational carmaker Nissan has reinvented itself over the years by capturing the best of market innovations while keeping up with consumer trends. Rakesh Srivastava, Managing Director of Nissan Motor India, gives us insight into the shifting automobile landscape, particularly into the post-pandemic period, and how Nissan has sustained its position in what is arguably India’s most competitive industry.
What challenges have you faced in the aftermath of the pandemic and how has it impacted your business model? What are some strategies that have helped your business in a post pandemic world? How do you see the market dynamics for Nissan changing in FY 22?
The pandemic has radically transformed the way the auto industry does business. Many business practices were pushed into obsoletion, as what had once worked for brands and customers in the pre-pandemic era was disrupted.
As a people-first organization, we at Nissan remained focused on the health and safety of the people, and in parallel, focused on empowering people and stakeholders. We were early in acknowledging how the pandemic-borne shift in customer behaviour would impact business. We invested heavily in going Phygital, by streamlining our dealership operations with an asset-lite business model supported by digital retail. We took many steps to upskill our workforce, while also appointing highly trained personnel at the channel partners to deliver on our goal of an exceptional customer experience.
We continued to enhance our customer-centric services such as our Express Service, the Convenience of Doorstep service, Pick-Up & Drop-off service, Service Cost Calculator, and the assurance of 24/7 roadside assistance in over 1500 cities. This value proposition has bolstered our market performance, with the Nissan Magnite achieving over 1 lakh bookings and over 50,000 deliveries since its launch.
Consequently, even amidst the challenges of the pandemic and semiconductor shortage, Nissan has enjoyed a 315% growth in volume in the domestic market, with industry growth of 21% in the first nine months of FY21. Nissan’s year-to-date (YTD) export sales have been 28,582 vehicles, against 17,785 vehicles in 2020 YTD – a robust 61% growth.
As part of our NEXT transformation plan to deliver value for sustainable growth, we will continue to rationalise and prioritise business areas to deliver a solid post-pandemic recovery. We are positive that customer sentiments will continue to improve, accelerating demand in this financial year. In addition, India’s forecasted GDP growth of 7.5% (against 3.2% last year) will create a tailwind for the automobile industry. We are confident that Nissan India will continue delivering value to the customers and partners, thereby maintaining our positive momentum and achieving 100% growth in volume by end-2022.
How has your firm embraced innovation in recent times? How has your brand evolved in recent times? How has technology shaped your brand connect in recent times? How do customers across platforms resonate with your brand?
Nissan has always been focused on customer-centricity, innovation, and evolving our customer connect. In recent months, we have seen tectonic shifts in car ownership and experience – especially a prominent shift to a digital-led car purchase journey for new-age customers. This has led us to introduce SHOP@Home platform, which allows customers to research their preferred cars, personalize them with accessories, and receive an estimated exchange value of their existing vehicles. The platform also allows them to book and make payments for their car online, and also apply for a loan with Nissan Finance. A Nissan dealership receives this information in real-time and begins the vehicle’s delivery to the customer.
As a result of our digital assets, which include Virtual Showroom, Virtual Test Drives, Virtual Sales Assistant, as well as our subscription model, 21% of bookings have taken place via the Shop@Home digital platform. To take our digital ecosystem to the next level, we have added the ‘Nissan Circle’ programme, which enriches the value of owning a Nissan car through multiple auto and lifestyle partners.