Will a New Strategy Make the Nissan Titan Relevant?
Nissan concentrating marketing dollars on just four U.S. citiesby Mark McNabb, on
The Nissan Titan has never been a sales giant. Since its debut in 2003 and second-generation launch in 2016, the Titan has failed to capture a sizeable share of the full-size market share. It’s easy to understand why; Ford, General Motors, and Ram largely control the segment and buyers are fiercely brand loyal. But Nissan has a plan. Rather than attacking the Big Three head-on at the national level, the Japanese automaker is using precision to target just four U.S. cities – Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. Nissan is flooding these truck-loving areas with marketing dollars while supporting the local dealerships with extensive training on the Titan’s features.
The strategy might sound odd, but Nissan says its already working. The included dealerships saw monthly sales numbers quadruple to 4,033. Granted, four times nearly zero still pales in comparison to the Big Three’s sales numbers. Ford alone sells roughly 70,000 F-Series pickups every month, while GM sells around 58,000. Ram usually bounces around GM’s monthly sales figures. But Nissan won’t stay locked on these cities. Once its phase one is wrapped up, Nissan will expand this marketing strategy to six new cities, and then onto 40. Once Nissan’s goal of a five-percent market share in each city is achieved, the Titan’s marketing campaign will then move nationally. Nissan has more reasoning than just increasing sales in adopting this growth plan.
Continue reading for more on Nissan’s plans.
The Three-Part Issue
The ultimate goal is to sell as many Titan and Titan XD pickups as logistically possible to maximize Nissan’s return on investment.
Obviously, the ultimate goal is to sell as many Titan and Titan XD pickups as logistically possible to maximize Nissan’s return on investment and fill the corporate coffers with truckloads of cash, with employees getting healthy bonuses along the way. In order to achieve this end goal, three main barriers must be overcome.
First, Nissan is working to increase Titan production at its Canton, Mississippi assembly plant. The plant has been slowing ramping up production since the latter part of 2015, starting first with high-end trim levels of the 2016-model-year Titan XD fitted with the 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V-8. Lesser trim levels and the gasoline V-8 model were then added, followed by the half-ton Titan for 2017. Regular and King Cabs (extended cab) on both Titan and Titan XD were the last to join. Now Nissan can focus on increasing production volume. This slow ramp-up in production could not have supported demand after a full-scale national marketing campaign, leaving dealers with too few trucks to meet demand. Nissan’s plan of marketing growth complements the growth in the assembly process rather than overwhelming its capabilities all at once.
Second, this slow rollout gives Nissan the chance to better educate its frontline sales staff about the Titan and Titan XD’s capabilities. Truck buyers can often ask questions about payload and towing specifications and how different configurations of the Titan affect GVWR, GCVWR, and other such metrics. Knowledge of different towing methods and best practices isn’t exactly common knowledge. Nissan says it is conducting full-day education programs for both sales and service staffers.
Third, Nissan can’t afford to stretch its marketing budget too thin. Advertising nationally through multiple platforms costs millions. Even still, Ford, GM, and Ram already have an unbelievably tight hold on the pickup segment. Focusing efforts in target areas and scaling up once sales goals are met seems like a smarter option. And of course, Nissan can’t sell trucks it hasn’t built – an issue stemming back to the first problem of production volume.
Titan only came in King and Crew cab configurations with two available bed lengths.
Part of Nissan’s plan for expanding Titan sales is the truck itself. The first generation Titan only came in King and Crew cab configurations with two available bed lengths. This alienated the Titan from a large portion of truck buyers: commercial and government fleets. Nissan has changed this with the second-generation Titan by adding the “heavier-duty” Titan XD, the optional turbodiesel V-8 from one of the most respected diesel manufacturers in the world, and far more variety in cab and bed configurations.
Nissan has changed this with the second-generation Titan by adding the “heavier-duty” Titan XD.
A large construction company, for example, can bulk-purchase a slew of single-cab, long-bed Titan XDs in the base S trim, give mid-level supervisors a Titan King Cab in the SV or SL trim, and the CEO can tax-deduct his Cummins-powered Titan XD Platinum Reserve as a business expense. This is the same format the Big Three use – a truck for every situation and budget.
Still, Nissan can’t compete toe-to-toe with the Big Three in every pickup category. Nissan neither offers a true one-ton pickup like the Ford Super Duty nor does it have the medium-duty pickup lines like the F-550 and Ram 5500. Nevertheless, Nissan now has more pickup options than ever before and can turn its attention to addressing the three main sales concerns. Growth will come slowly – but by design. The American pickup market is a tough nut to crack, after all. And Nissan is smart for following the age-old advice about eating an elephant; take one bite at a time.
Source: Automotive News