This integrated marketing communication plan outlines the communication objectives, strategies, and tactics required for a successful execution of integrated marketing for Nissan Hybrid Car Sports Coupe. Additionally, this plan provides the framework for product launch communication activities. The 2011 Nissan 370Z Hybrid Sports Coupe will be launched in 2011 and thus production units are not readily available for public testing feedback.
Established in 1933, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. was a pioneer in the manufacturing of automobiles. Nearly 70 years later, Nissan has become one of the world's leading automakers, with annual production of 2.4 million units, which represented 4.9 percent of the global market. Domestically, the company sells 774,000 vehicles on an annual basis, placing it second behind Toyota Motor Corporation. About 35 percent of Nissan's vehicles are sold in Japan, 25 percent in the United States, and 20 percent in Europe. In the North American market, the company's top models include the Infiniti, Maxima, Altima, and Sentra passenger cars, the Quest minivan, the Frontier pickup truck, and the Pathfinder sport utility vehicle. After losing money for most of the 1990s, Nissan entered into a global alliance with Renault S.A. in March 1999, with the French company taking a 37 percent stake in Nissan. A massive restructuring was then launched (Nissan 2010).
2.2 Company’s perspective
Nissan's challenge is to enhance its corporate value and to build a corporate foundation that will enable the Company to win out in the competitive environment of the 21st century. The management team is also keenly aware of its responsibility to meet the expectations of shareholders by reinstating dividend payments as soon as possible (Nissan 2010).
The all new Nissan Z sports coupe is powered by a Mercedes 2.2-liter four-cylinder E300 BlueTEC diesel-hybrid engine. This comes from a partnership between Renault-Nissan and Daimler. The gasoline hybrid is fitted with the 3.5-liter V-6 hybrid from the S400. The all new futuristic Nissan Z sports coupe hybrid was designed on a blend of performance and efficiency.
The major salient features of the all new Nissan Z sports coupe hybrid include:
|High performance||The car provides a new dimension of sporty performance, enabling anyone around the globe to enjoy the pleasure of sporty driving.|
|Design||The innovative design boldly blends unique Z-ness in a fresh, new styling.|
|High value||Customers will enjoy performance, design and perceived quality far beyond what one would imagine|
|Efficiency||Environmentally friendly with fuel efficiency and lighter carbon footprint of a hybrid powertrain.|
Objectives are important to clarify and set an objective set of targets that ought to be achieved by the planned actions. Objectives exist on three levels; Corporate, marketing and communication.
Corporate objective can be summarized as shareholder wealth maximisation and is ultimately achieved through higher profits and increased sales.
Marketing objectives are the successful introduction of a new car to the market. The 370Z hybrid was derived from a research project and its conversion to a production car might be more with the intend to improve Nissan’s image, a kind of practical socially responsibility report, showcasing Nissan’s engineering capabilities at the same time.
3.1 Communication Activities
Marketing communication activities are a vital part (Clow and Baack 2010) in achieving the above two and have to be coordinated with all other company activities (production, sales, purchasing).
- Increase the consideration of Nissan when planning a new car purchase.
- The target market should be reached as fully as possible
- Customer and Consumers have to be made aware of a new product and its brand name.
- Being a new product with a new technology, a prime objective is to educate consumers and explain the working of the 370Z hybrid and advantages of this.
- Target markets should be excited about the new 370Z hybrid and spread buzz/ word of mouth.
- Communications should motivate consumers to find out more about the 370Z hybrid; visit the website, order brochures, visit a local dealer, order a test drive.
- The 370Z hybrid should be considered as a full and valid alternative to traditional sport cars.
- Ultimately communications should lead to a purchase, a higher percentage of showroom visits should be turned into sales
In a perfect world communications will guide the target through the AIDA chain. As this product is new there are no historical data that would allow some form of trend extrapolation to determine what is possible or what is realistic. The 370Z hybrid will be launch in Japan and the USA, and followed by the EU, UK and Australian market. However, these markets may be different from the Australian with a different environment and therefore only to some degree of valid to be compared with the Japan, USA, EU and UK market.
Post campaign research which should start during the campaign and be continued in intervals to monitor the situation to determined if all or some of these objectives will be met.
With only two cars in the hybrid market the 370Z hybrid could challenge to become the market leader.
4.0 Target Market
The 2011 Nissan 370Z Hybrid Sports Coupe is a hybrid vehicle that belongs in the sports car segment. However the Nissan 370Z Hybrid Sports Coupe is a “hybrid sports coupe” therefore the market for this kind of car is very new and competition very light.
Other manufacturer offering hybrid sports coupe is Honda with 2011 Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid Coupe. The CR-Z is a 1.5 liter, 16-valve 4-cylinder engine (Honda 2010).
It is the only other hybrid sports coupe car that is currently on the market but not offering the same performance as the Nissan 370Z.
Toyota has taken off the cover off of their upcoming MR2 based Hybrid Sports car. The MR2 has a 3.3 liter V6 petroleum engine. No production timeline has been made officially for the MR2 hybrid sports coupe (Toyota 2010).
A whole lot of other competitors are only offering concept hybrid sports car and production from them will not be earlier than 2012.
The market for this car is only the private consumer buyers and corporate buyers. The environmental features make the 370Z particularly interesting for corporate buyers, because of its low operating cost. Car dealers are also customers but to a lesser extent as they are not as free in their choice as other parties. They will have to buy and sell the cars what Nissan produces.
The private consumer is the most important market. The consumer is either male or female and between 30 and 50 years old (Sangkapichai and Saphores 2009). They are either single or married with a career. They are affluent and well-informed and educated adults, classed in the AB socio-economic segment. Therefore they are in higher managerial, administrative or professional occupations and of upper middle class. Hence they are not only prepared to purchase environmentally-friendly but also able to pay more for it (higher disposable income). They either a property owner or rent privately. They are most likely to already own a sports car or similar. They are either Australian or living in Australia and of no specific ethnic or religious background.
4.2 PsychographicWithin the demographic profile three main mindsets of probable buyers could be identified.
4.2.1 Early Adopters/ Technology pioneers- those who are interested in the latest technology/ innovation, and must be the first on the block to own this technology and embrace it.
- Print: Quality Daily Newspapers (Daily Telegraph, Australian, Herald Sun, Courier Mail ), Stuff, New Scientist, Wired, Trade Press, Car Magazines
- TV: SBS, ABC, Discovery Channel
- Other: intensive use of the internet, possibly WAP (internet over the mobile), heavy cinema goer, little radio (has mp3 CD-player in car, or listens to internet radio)
4.2.2 Environmentally Friendly- those who are recognising the environmental impact of motoring and would like to do something about it.
- those only “somewhat concerned” and seeking to express their concern and ease their conscience without causing themselves too much inconvenience. The socially aware mainstream, but more hesitant to buy new technology.
- Print: Quality Daily Newspapers, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Financial/ Business press
- TV: ABC, Channel 7, Channel 9, SBS
- Other: ABC Classic FM, Mix, occasionally use the internet
4.2.3 Performance Driven- those who are looking for the ideal combination of high fuel economy and low maintenance while maintaining the performance of a sports car.
- Print: Quality Daily Newspapers, Car Magazines
- TV: ABC, Channel7, Channel 9, Ten
- Other: Triple M , Galaxy, occasionally use the internet
- All three groups are likely to be exposed to the same degree of outdoor and ambient advertising.
It is difficult to estimate the exact size of each group, but most buyers will be a mix of all three and not only one reason will motivate a purchase. The overall size of these groups is probably fairly small and will explain why Hybrids are not more common yet.
4.3 GeographicThe private buyer will be from anywhere in Australia, but a higher share of people in New South Wales are prepared to buy a car with environmentally friendly features. This can be attributed to the problems of pollution and congestion being more widely perceived as a problem in New South Wales. Consequently the target buyer is more likely to come from an urban area or a large city.
The 370Z is positioned in the sports car segment and for people who wants style, performance and value but thinking about the environment and the effects of carbon footprint from fossil fuel usage.
The 370Z was conceived as an “Everyday Sports Car” (Topspeed 2010) targeting segment-leading performance. The new 370Z hybrid is positioned as a performance, style and value sports car. It’s an authentic sports car that the buyer does have to make sacrifices to own or drive every day.
The 370Z’s new styling offers dual benefits – a more aggressive appearance and a tighter structure for enhanced performance. Nissan expects the 370Z hybrid to be 90 percent more fuel efficient than other competitors. The hybrid engine took six years to developed and will compete against the Honda CR-Z and the Toyota MR2
5.1 SWOT Analysis, Overview
Internal strengthsNissan is the world’s 8th largest car manufacturer. As such Toyota has production facilities in more than 25 countries and can achieve benefits from economies of scale. Nissan uses the concept of “Just in Time” production that allows to reduce operating cost and overheads and to respond to customer demand quicker.
The yearly budget for R&D is set at ¥430 billion (Nissan 2010) for various research centres around the world. This willingness to invest has brought Nissan an innovative image and created products such as the 370Z hybrid.
Reliability and quality are regarded as Nissan’s major strength. The Altima is a top selling car.
Internal weaknessesAmerican buyers, yet their reputation of reliability is often not enough to convince Australian buyers who like to express themselves with their choice of car and therefore prefer cars with higher prestige from manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes, Audi or GM and Ford.
External opportunitiesConcerns of the environment provides the opportunity of reduce carbon print cars (Sangkapichai 2009). Nissan could obtain the benefits of being the first in this market. The introduction of new models in growing segments in general offers opportunities.
The new medium internet (Perren 2010) offers a wide variety of opportunities for the marketing of cars but also improve communications and to reduce operating cost (i.e. online showroom, online booking of test drives, nearest dealer locator, online purchasing, e-brochures).
External threatsThe major threat comes from rich and big competitors who dominate the Australian market. Indirect competition comes from alternative methods of transport of which none can really replace the convenience of the car, just as very few people are prepared to use public transport. Other government incentives are also aimed at reducing the usage of cars, e.g. tax increases and fuel prices increases. These actions can reduce the number of car purchases and reduce eventual profits.
6.0 Creative Strategy
The 370Z hybrid offers features that no other car offers. These unique selling positions should be emphasised in the promotions (Smith 1997) ) and any barriers to purchase be weakened at the same time (unique selling proposition strategy). Promotions messages are like to change over time, early promotion should concentrate on the awareness and education aspect, whereas later executions can focus on creating excitement and focus on specific benefits.
To appeal to the target market, promotions (Belch and Belch 2007) should promote the car and its users to be innovative, imaginative, bold, intelligent, revolutionary and pioneering. Identified barriers to purchase (high initial cost, unproven technology, product ignorance) should be overcome by stressing the long run efficiency, success in Japan and product information/explanation. It is important to stress that the 370Z hybrid does not need any external recharging (confusion with traditional electric vehicles) and offers the same convenience as a normal sports car, the 370Z hybrid should therefore perceived as ‘least brown’ and not ‘green’ (and all the disadvantages associated with that).
It would make sense to create different executions to target one of the three mindsets identified in the target market and emphasising their reasons to buy and refute their individual barriers to buy. This can be done in a subtle style and will not change the style of the promotion (Clow & Baack 2010). Consequently promotions should appear in media where one psychographic profile is more dominant then the others.
The tone of voice should be modern, intelligent and witty/ humours if possible, maybe screening one of the USP against a conventional competitor.
7.0 IMC Mix
There are various communication methods (Belch & Belch 2007). Two important factors have to be considered when selecting the communication for the 370Z hybrid: The type of product (high involvement) and its stage in the product life cycle (introduction). These two factors influence the consumer/customer buying behaviour and therefore the mix has to be adjusted to fit these conditions.
Public relations are essentially information within an independent medium (e.g. magazine, newspaper) that occurred because a company provided them with those (e.g. press release). Public relations are useful (Vaitalingam 2010) because they enjoy a high credibility at a low cost, but the exact message cannot be controlled. This communication form will be of major importance for the 370Z hybrid campaign as many buyers draw their information from the media. Being represented, talked about in those will be an essential step in at least being considered as a choice.
“Nissan 370Z Hybrid Sports Coupe
Innovation and Styling at its Best
Increase Performance Reduce Emission”
Personal selling is very important (MacLeod et al 1999) because a car is a high involvement product and affords more conviction for purchase which is given by PS. Personal selling will be carried out by the local dealers who in advance should have been trained to be familiar with the 370Z hybrid car (dealership launch material, conferences) and its advantages and how to overcome objections.
Personal selling will also be of major importance (MacLeod et al 1999) when targeting the corporate buying segment, because these customers buy in bulk they expect to be given a presentation by a Honda’s representative to convince them that 370Z hybrid is suitable for their purpose.
The cost of training and personal selling are assumed to be covered in dealer’s and Honda’s overheads.
Sales promotion (Belch and Belch 2007), monetary incentives to buy, is most effective to trigger a decision or purchase. SP is useful at the beginning of the product life cycle to increase acceptance or provoke a trial. Honda will be selling the 370Z hybrid at a premium. However an additional third party sales promotion mechanism has been put into place: PCFV, a government partnership backed agency, charged with encouraging cleaner fuels, will refund a AUD1000 to the first 50 buyers of the 370Z hybrid. To get the biggest benefit out of this Honda should advertise this fact. Otherwise SP should be used spontaneously once a slowdown in sales can be detected (PLC).
Advertising, a paid form of non-personal mass communication from an identified sponsor, should be the major communication mix ingredient for this campaign. Advertising is controllable, but expensive especially TV (Perren 2010). Advertising can be used to increase awareness, create interest and inform about 370Z hybrid USPs.
Customers or consumer are reached by placing adverts in their target media.
Direct mail in the form of newsletters can useful for this campaign to create awareness (pre launch) and inform or offer of opportunity to book a test drive. Honda has already a database in place but can also buy further data. Direct mail is also important when targeting the corporate buyers and provides them with detailed information about the 370Z hybrid. People who receive direct mail in error or those who are not interested in the offers might feel annoyed and lower their image of Honda.
The Nissan 370Z hybrid message is:
The message appeal to buyers whom appreciates a sports coupe, being well-heeled would like to enjoy life in the fast lane driving a high performance car. At the same time it appeals to the buyers that are not only conscious of their status in society but also the consciousness of environment and how their actions contribute to society as whole. The appeal of a hybrid car with reduce carbon emission is alluring to these buyers (Sangkapichai, M 2009).
Figure 7.1 Billboard Ad
7.2 Recommended Campaign
Pre-testing is important especially for a totally new product, to check if the message sent is conceived as intended by the target market (Clow & Baack 2010). Testing will help to determine the optimum mix between imagery and copy and reduce the risk of failure in general.
Testing with test audiences who represent the general public and the target audience should include concept, style and creative strategy of all intended communications and executions. A share of the budget has to be allocated for pre-testing.
Direct mail should be one of the first activities with pre-launch awareness letters being sent to existing Honda customers. Honda can also buy additional databases from media that their target has subscribed to (e.g. Daily Telegraph, as far as legally possible) and then filter these for the target demographic profile.
A second wave of direct mail upon the launch with more discrete information should follow and formally announce the launch of the 370Z hybrid. On this occasion the audience should be given the opportunity to either pre-order the car (benefit of Nissan loyalty) or request a test drive at a local dealer. It will have to be integrated/tuned with local dealer’s own mailing efforts. Direct mail should also be sent to corporate buyers, which ought to be included in Nissan’s database.
Direct mail should also be used in a digital form (email) to underline the 370Z hybrid contemporary image. Emails could be designed to enable to directly pre-order the car and purchase the car online, something that would appeal to the pioneer mindset. Newsletters should include detailed brochures and eventually a CD-Rom (Perren, A 2010).
Press releases and press conferences can create positive public relations (Sangkapichai 2010). These can be used for the launch and early stages of the 370Z hybrid to raise awareness and create interest for the new product just as educate the public about the 370Z hybrid’ working and advantages. Effectiveness will be increased when PR appears in media consumed by the target market. Considering the 370Z hybrid revolutionary technology media will be prepared to talk about this product and even a certain amount of requested coverage could be expected.
The 370Z hybrid will be exhibited in suitable shows and exhibitions in the motor industry to initiate some buzz and prepare the market.
Sponsorship, related to PR, offers a good opportunity later in the product life cycle, to enhance awareness and image. Especially for activities that stand for the same social benefits as the 370Z hybrid or are associated with the target group.
Advertising will be utilized as one of the most important communication methods (Greenberg 2005), along with PR. The use of TV, Print, Internet and Outdoor seems most promising to reach and affect the target market. The creative strategy will used to place advertising in target media, with slightly different executions to meet each of the three mindsets in their individual media.
Advertising will go through different stages to aware, educate and interest the target audience and then hopefully result in a dealer visit.
Personal selling (discussed above) is very important to win over both consumers and customers in the car market. Internal communication has to make sure these are executed integrated and in line with other communications.
Sales Promotion has been discussed above and a AUD50,000 mechanism is already in place (PCFV) and should suffice for the start. Providing up to 2 vehicles as prizes in several prize-draws is recommended, which should be conducted in target market consumed media.
Obviously the campaign will be a mix between push and pull, the consumer market should be driven rather by a pull predominated strategy whereas the corporate customer market is recommended by a slightly more aggressive push strategy.
7.3 Television Ad Mockup
|Scene 1||Two 370Z are racing each other across the dessert|
|Scene 2||They swerve and turn overtaking each other creating a dusty scene|
|Scene 3||The scenery changes slowly from dessert to greenery with leaves and trees|
|Scene 4||The two 370Z are now racing each other but in a forested road|
|Scene 5||The two 370Z complete the race in a screeching halt but a mountainous lake with clear blue sky, crystal clear lake water and a forested mountain on the background|
|Scene 6||Next to the lake waters Fernando Alonso steps out of his stationary silver 370Z. Cameron Diaz steps out of the other red 370Z steps.|
|Final Scene||They look at each other smiling and the message comes across the screen |
“Nissan 370Z Hybrid Sports Coupe
Innovation and Styling at its Best
Increased Performance Reduce Emission”
8.1 Vehicle Selection
TV is a favourite medium because of its wide reach and its high impact that is useful for showcasing a high impact product such as a car. The volume of TV ads however is limited by its costs but popular target group programmes (consult research) and times should be used as extensively as possible (Perren 2010). Identified TV stations: ABC, SBS, Channel 7, Channel 9
Print adverts will be placed in quality newspapers and especially their weekend supplements (back cover & second page). Additional ads are placed in car industry magazines and those read by the target group.
Titles identified to read by the target audience: Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, Courier Mail, Financial Times, National Geographic, Stuff, New Scientist, Vanity Fair, MotorTrend, Automobile, CarandDriver, RoadTrack etc.
PR activities will concentrate on target audience print publications but also involve TV programmes that deal with cars (Top Gear, 5th Gear, new technology programmes) the environment and maybe even radio programmes. Press releases will be provided to car industry and target group used media (see above).
Outdoor billboards should be placed in urban areas to reach the broad audience of car drivers at a low cost. Placing these at busy junctions will complement TV and print advertising and be visible where the 370Z hybrid is of best use: on the street.
Internet plays an important role (Vaitilingam 2010), direct mail will be sent as email where possible and enable buyers to purchase the 370Z hybrid online. A 370Z hybrid specific microsite will offer all information e-brochures for download. All adverts should bear the 370Z hybrid web address to make it easy for users to find.
Direct mail and sales promotion have been discussed above.
We will not use cinema because a low usage amongst our target has been detected and the extra expenses are not likely to pay off. Directories are not suitable for the image of the 370Z hybrid. Regional press will not be considered because traditionally these media are used by local dealers. Radio advertising might be useful but we feel that radio will not be able to exert the necessary impact to convince; the 370Z hybrid should be visible to make sure the audience understands that it is a modern and full car.
8.2 Media Budgets
It is important to notice that marketing communications should start before the product is actually launched, for launch activities to unfold their full potential. Even long before that all departments that contribute to the product and communication will have to meet regularly to tune into an integrated strategy (Gooding & Metz 2010).
Pre-Launch: The setup of a microsite round the 370Z hybrid will happen once the 370Z hybrid has been shown on exhibitions. Direct mail will be sent before and after the launch. PR will be provided scarcely before and fully after Launch. Advertising and will set in once the product is available. TV adverts will start in a ‘wedge pattern’ (initial ‘Blitz’) (Rossiter and Danaher 1998) and flow into a ‘awareness pattern’ (Rossiter and Danaher 1998) after six months to maintain awareness for a product that has a long purchase cycle and a long decision time.
Considering the small target group of the 370Z hybrid and the small projected sales figures a budget of AUD9million over three years seems appropriate, however we would recommend to re-allocate the budget. AUD4m should be spent in the first year, AUD3m in the second and AUD2m in the third. That way the launch period communications can be intensified. Three years are also likely to correspond to the approximate life of this car model since car manufacturer have increased their model output to keep demand high.
Post-testing (during and after campaign) is important because it helps to evaluate the actual success of the campaign (was the money worth spending, were objective achieved) and feedback can also help when planning future campaigns (Belch & Belch 2007).
Post-testing will be conducted by an agency that specialises in conducting surveys to determine the public’s reaction to the communications. These tests should include the recognition/ awareness of adverts, recall rate and how it has influenced people’s feelings/ attitude. Was the target group reached and was the right message received?
These results can then be compared with results measured before the campaign launch to state the impact the campaign had. Budget has to be allocated for this.
We recommend a communications strategy that makes use of advertising, PR, new media and direct mail. Personal selling will be provided by the existing network of local dealers. Advertising will use TV, Print and outdoor media to initiate purchases. The Internet will play an important role for both advertising and direct mail, using a modern medium to underline the advanced character of this car.
However, this plan is only a model/ plan, and not definitive, it can and is likely to change especially if pre or post-testing give negative results.
Before realizing the proposed action a long planning period with frequent meetings of all parties is necessary to ensure the integrity and unanimous messages of the campaign.
1. Belch, G & Belch, M 2007, “Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective”, McGraw-Hill
2. Clow, K, & Baack, D, 2010, “Integrated Advertising,Promotion, and Marketing Communications”, Pearson.
3. Gooding, J & Metz, B 2010, “Connecting the Dots between Consumer Protection, Skepticism, and Science, Science Activities, vol. 47, pp.41-46
4. Greenberg, K 2005, “Auto Mobility”, MediWeek, Vol. 15, Issue12
5. Honda 2010, Retrieved September 10, 2010 from http://automobiles.honda.com web site: http://automobiles.honda.com/cr-z/
6. MacLeod, MD.; Garber, J, Lawrence, L, Dotson, MJ, Chambers, TM 1999, “The Use of Promotional Tools in the Motor Carrier Inductry: An Exploratory Study”, Transportation Journal, Vol. 38 Issue 3, p42-56, viewed 15 September 2010 EBSCOhost, Academic Search Complete, item: AN1843239
7. Nissan 2010, “Annual Report 2010”, Nissan, Japan
8. Nissan, Retrieved September 10, 2010 from www.nissan-global.com web site:http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/COMPANY/
9. Perren, A 2010, “Business as Unusual: Conglomerate-Sized Challenges for Film and Television in the Digital Arena”, Journal of Popular Film & Television, Vol. 38 Issue 2, p72-78, viewed 16 September 2010 EBSCOhost, Academic Search Complete, item: AN52016830
10. Pickton, David and Broderick, Amanda. 2001. Integrated Marketing Communications. Harlow: Prentice Hall
11. Rossiter, J. and Danaher, P. 1998. Advanced Media Planning. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
12. Smith, G 1997, “What is your USP?”, Australian Artist, Vol. 13 Issue 10, p14, viewed 14 September 2010 EBSCOhost, Academic Search Complete, item: AN9709070894
13. Sandkapichai, M 2009, “Transportation and the Environment: Essays on Technology, Infrastructure, and Policy”, eScholarship University of California Transportation Center, UCTC Dissertation No. 155,University of California
14. Sangkapichai, M & Saphores, J 2009, “Why are Californians interested in hybrid cars?”, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, vol.52, issue 1, pp.79 - 96
15. Toyota 2010, Retrieved September 10, 2010 from web site: http://www.toyota.com
16. Vaitilingam, R 2010 “Developing a Media Strategy”, Economic and Social Research Council
IMC PLAN - A CONCEPT PAPER FOR NISSAN HYBRID SPORTS COUPE, written by Christopher Lim