Fresh products drive Nissan marketing
Fenton: Sentra could be big.
Nissan's wave of redesigned vehicles is driving ad spending by both the manufacturer and its dealers.
Ad budgets have been running about 20 percent ahead of a year ago, says Nissan dealer Brad Fenton, owner of multiline Fenton Motors in Oklahoma City and 2013 chairman of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board.
Fenton says increased advertising and incentive support will be necessary to keep the brand competitive. He recognizes that providing incentives is a tricky business but says Nissan must match the competition.
"I personally don't like it when we have to have big cash rebates," he says. "That suggests to customers that the product's not competitive.
"But to be competitive at driving deals and helping us put deals together, there are some good incentives. They can help us pull ahead a customer by making a couple of payments and getting them into a new car earlier. And low interest rates are always a positive to sell a car."
The bottom line, he says, is that Nissan needs "to stay competitive with what other folks are doing."
Fenton says Nissan has benefited from a combination of good products and strong marketing. "They've done some really nice things to raise our presence in the market," he says.
Since last summer, Nissan has been rolling out redesigned versions of most of its high-volume products. Nissan dealers received a redesigned Altima mid-sized car, Pathfinder mid-sized SUV and Sentra compact in 2012 and now are preparing to receive the new Versa Note hatchback subcompact and a redesigned Rogue compact crossover.
Fenton, who became a Nissan dealer in 1982, when the brand was still called Datsun, believes the redesigned Sentra will become a higher-volume product than it has been for the past several years. He recalls that the Sentra was one of the industry's biggest-selling import nameplates in the 1980s.
"It looks to me to be the best product we've ever had in that segment," Fenton says. "I'm convinced it could really be a segment-leading product that's way ahead of the competition, in terms of points of shopping comparison."
You can reach Lindsay Chappell at email@example.com.