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September 19, 2020

Nissan PH Changes Market Approach Amid the Economic Slowdown

Nissan Philippines remains unperturbed despite the decline in auto sales this 2020. Atsushi Najima, president of Nissan in the Philippines says the carmaker is weathering the economic storm thanks to a change in mindset in the company.

Last year, Nissan finished as the country’s fastest growing brand with a 22.2 percent sales growth year-on-year. This was enough to cement their position as the country’s third best-selling brand with a 10.41 percent market share.

In 2020, however, Nissan’s impressive growth streak came to an abrupt halt. With challenges brought upon by the coronavirus pandemic as well as the Taal ashfall earlier in the year, year-to-date figures dropped 54.2 percent. Regardless, they remain as the country’s third best-selling brand.

Despite the government easing lockdowns and restrictions, Najima-san says Philippine auto sales remain slow to recover. Both the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) and Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) both report year-to-date sales down by 48 percent. This is the second slowest recovery in the entire ASEAN region.

Moreover, Najima-san reveals that the only “bright spots” in the industry are in the entry-level segments such as the A-segment passenger car (Toyota Wigo, etc.) and the B-segment low SUV (Suzuki S-Presso, etc.).

With buyers skewing towards these segments, and Nissan not having a product offering in either segment as of now, Najima-san has instead instructed his team to focus on segments where they are strong such as the pickup truck and mid-sized SUV segments.

This strategy has paid off with both the Navara and the Terra having retained their position as the second best-selling nameplate in their respective categories. The 370Z sportscar has also been strong for the brand, selling in “double digits” every single month since its July availability.

Instead of chasing outright numbers, Nissan in the Philippines is focused on delivering a more customer-centric experience. For example, the launch of their virtual showroom has become a vital tool during the pandemic.

“We could have been first among the local car brands to launch a virtual showroom,” says Najima-san. “But I asked my team: is it more important to be first, or is it more important to get it right. In the end, we decided what’s right for the customer by doing it right.”

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