Nissan Middle East adopts pioneering strategy that prioritizes customers and emphasizes innovation in the region
Abdulilah Wazni, Director of Product, Marketing, and Customer Experience at Nissan Middle East
Earlier this month, Abdulilah Wazni, Director of Product, Marketing and Customer Experience at Nissan Middle East, shed light on the reality of the automotive market in the region. This included the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, semiconductor shortages, and disruptions in supply chains, and how Nissan overcame these challenges while continuing to be profitable by remaining agile and keeping customers at the center of their strategy.
A key component of this tactic is a strong product line-up, built to cater to the needs of customers in the region, and strengthened with the introduction of exciting new models, including the all-new Pathfinder, all-new X-TRAIL, and the iconic seventh-generation Nissan Z, amongst others, over the past year. Humanizing technologies in their products was also key for enhancing driving experiences with the latest Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) technologies including the semi-autonomous ProPILOT Assist that is available on the Altima, Pathfinder and most recently on the X-TRAIL for the very first time.
Enhancing the overall purchasing and ownership experiences for current and potential customers, Nissan placed a strong focus on improving customer services within a globally consistent brand experience and furthering the rollout of the Nissan Retail Concept (NRC) to more sales and service facilities across the region. This was supported by a unique combination of innovative digital tools, namely, Shop@Home and Nissan Service.
Nissan’s Shop@Home helps potential customers by virtually bringing the showroom experience to their home – including a full virtual showroom experience, providing a 360-degree online tour around dealerships to discover vehicles, as well as options to buy. On the other hand, Nissan Service which is a suite of aftersales products and services and includes the option of real-time service bookings and online payment with the nearest service center, is designed around the evolving needs and expectations of customers in the Middle East.
The automotive sector has suffered from successive challenges, most notably the slowdown in supply chains, high inflation rates and spare parts prices. Were you able to overcome these crises and address them?
The automotive industry, as agile and resilient as it is, has been experiencing a series of unprecedented challenges over the past few years. The global semiconductor shortage, which continues to have a profound effect on automobile manufacturers across the globe, has been accelerated by geopolitical unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to plague key manufacturing hubs. As we navigate uncharted territory, we at Nissan have had to update our plans and forecasts to accommodate the ongoing chip shortages and minimize impact to customers.
We have done this by adjusting production schedules within our manufacturing operations and worked closely with our global teams and local partners to minimize the disruption of vehicle deliveries to our dealers and customers. For Nissan, the key to navigating these challenges has been the ability to adapt to changing conditions and steer our way through a global shortage in vehicle supply, by continuing to listen to customer needs and accelerate digital offerings across all touchpoints.
Were you able to record good levels of sales according to the strategy set for 2022?
Nissan’s global sales results recorded an increase in revenues and operating profits in the first half (April – September) of our fiscal year 2022, despite the challenges of rising raw material prices, semiconductor shortages, and disruptions to global supply chains.
The success of Nissan globally was echoed in the Middle East, a region of opportunity and one in which we have been present in since 1956. Aiding us in successfully navigating these headwinds, were a strong network of partners across the region, whose deep local insights helped us elevate our holistic customer offering, and ultimately drive brand consideration and loyalty.
In addition to a vast product line-up of sedans and SUVs, we enhanced customer experiences with the introduction of new technologies, including ProPILOT Assist, and accelerated our digitalization efforts across touchpoints.
This was supported by the rollout of Nissan Retail Concept (NRC) to over 30% of our sales and service facilities across the region to provide customers a more integrated experience in line with global standards. As a brand that prioritizes the needs of customers, we also developed the first manufacturer-backed Certified Pre-Owned program in the region for added safety, value for money, and peace of mind.
Lastly, and to offer customers greater convenience, transparency, and value, we also introduced Nissan Service, a comprehensive suite of services across online and offline channels. Focused on building trust with clear and transparent communication and offering convenient digitalized options to customers across the Middle East, Nissan Service allows customers to make service bookings in real-time for an appointment within 24 hours, as well as easily manage all payment transactions with their nearest local service center.
As a result of the innovative solutions launched, we have witnessed increased levels of customer engagement on Nissan's web platforms across the Middle East, with a 36 per cent increase in session duration year-on-year in 2022. This heightened online engagement has led to digital sales leads doubling across the region.
Have you seen an increase in the demand for electric cars in line with the concept of sustainability?
Several Gulf countries, particularly the UAE, had announced its ambition to achieve carbon neutrality as part of its Net Zero 2050 initiative a few years ago. Since then, the UAE has placed a strong emphasis on building the necessary infrastructure to accommodate this shift within the automotive industry and its customers.
Expo 2020 Dubai, which served as a global stage, brought together stakeholders from multiple industries to shift towards a greener, safer, and more connected future. Nissan's partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai served as a natural translation of our shared vision with the global fair to bring stakeholders together to foster growth opportunities, create value and make advanced mobility solutions accessible for all.
As the Official Automotive Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, we utilized this global platform to showcase our first all-electric crossover, Ariya, as a symbol of the Future of Mobility. This move was aligned with our global Ambition 2030 plan that places a strong focus on electrification and exciting vehicles that empower customer journeys and society.
As part of Nissan Ambition 2030, our long-term vision for empowering mobility and beyond for a cleaner, safer, and more inclusive world, we plan to invest 2 trillion yen over the next five years and place electrification at the core of our global strategy. Based on customer demands for a diverse range of exciting vehicles, Nissan will introduce 23 new electrified models, including 15 new EVs by fiscal year 2030 with the aim to become carbon neutral across the lifecycle of our products by 2050.