Will your ad spending be up or down in 2001, compared with 2000? By what percentage?
Our fiscal year begins April 1, so we're a lot further out than other automakers in planning for 2001. But we are projecting we'll be up 5 to 10 percent in spending, compared to fiscal year 2000.
What media mix do you expect for 2001? How does that compare with 2000?
At this point we're getting to where our strategic plan should be - a fully integrated effort to cut across everything from TV to print and the Internet. We don't see a super-dramatic change in media mix from last year. We want to continue to have advertising that's breakthrough and breaks through the clutter. We want to do more network than spot TV, and that's being driven by the launch of the new Altima in the fall. Our spending for TV in total is 70 to 75 percent of our measured media budget. Consumer print is about 15 to 16 percent; home and outdoors is 6 to 7 percent; the Internet in the 1 to 2 percent range.
Is the Internet still a good marketing tool for you? How will you use it in 2001?
That's the question everyone's asking themselves: Is the Internet working for them? Our plan is to integrate the Net with other forms of media. It should be integrated with our total plan. What we want to do is engage our consumers in areas of most interest to them, and we need to make sure it supports our brand efforts. We will consider a strategy that will be very focused with our brand message.
We'll continue to upgrade our Web site, nissandriven.com. We know it's the primary place consumers go to learn more about our products. People are finding the business of selling a vehicle online is not as easy as it was once thought to be. It's really a resource for consumers to learn more and then go to the dealership; we still want our Web site to be the primary resource for our products.
How do you expect rebates and incentives to affect your marketing budget in 2001?
I think every manufacturer wants to be doing less in this area. We've seen softening sales in the industry. If it gets tougher remains to be seen. We've done a tremendous job of having less reliance on rebates and incentives in the last 12 months. We hope to continue to do less. That's our goal, and while we desire that rebates be reduced, we always have to be prepared to react to the competition. We have to be mindful of what's happening in the marketplace and strive to remain competitive. Saleswise, we want to be up over last year. We did well this year; our marketing programs worked well. We want to be in the 700,000-vehicle range for Nissan (U.S. sales).
What is the biggest launch you have coming up in 2001? When will it be?
Our big launch will be the new Altima next fall. The 2002 Altima will be launched in September. We'll begin showing it in a spring auto show - probably New York in April. The new Altima is a vast departure from the current model - larger than the current Altima with only a four-cylinder engine configuration. The new Altima will go more head-to-head with the Camry and Accord and is packaged more competitively with those vehicles. It will be in dealer showrooms in fall 2001. We hope it will be a volume model for us. Our long-term goal is to get that vehicle in the 200,000-sales range.
What is your major marketing challenge for 2001?
It's getting increasingly competitive out there, so we want to keep up the momentum gained when we launched the new Maxima and Frontier, and the Xterra that's starting to get attention in the U.S. market. We need to continue going forward, be noticed and break through the clutter that's out there. We'll absolutely rely on our agency - Chiat Day in Los Angeles - to do that.