TOKYO - Determined to boost its market share in Japan to President Yoshikazu Hanawa's target of 25 percent, Nissan Motor Co. is turning to a little-used sales tactic in Japan - women.
About 5,400 new hires joined Nissan's sales force on April 1, the start of Japan's new fiscal year. That was up 13 percent from the prior year. But only 400 were women.
Next year, Nissan will hire 1,000 saleswomen for its company-owned dealerships, up 2.5 times from this year's level, said spokesman Keiichi Tsuboi.
Saleswomen are still rare in Japan's male-oriented business culture. General Motors' Saturn unit has stood out in Japan by employing a high percentage of women in its sales force, and has featured a saleswoman in its ads.
Deploying larger sales forces to boost volumes is a time-honored approach in Japan, even though the country is considered overdealered and many company-owned stores are unprofitable in part due to high labor costs. Nissan estimates that about half of its dealers were in the red last year.