Separating Infiniti from Nissan day-to-day business will help the small luxury brand grow, says the chairman of the brand's national dealer advisory board.
The problem isn't confusion in the mind of the consumer, says Matt Gunderson, dealer principal of Infiniti of Mission Viejo in Mission Viejo, Calif. The problem is elsewhere -- from how Infiniti is discussed in the media to how product decisions are made at the parent company, Nissan Motor Corp.
"What the separation will give Infiniti is more of an identity as a brand, more than it has received by sharing ad agencies or marketing plans or marketing strategies with Nissan," Gunderson told Automotive News in an interview about the brand's outlook for 2014.
"I'm not sure the idea of Infiniti and Nissan being linked really percolates in the mind of consumers as much as it does in the mind of the media, with the respect it gives the brand."
Infiniti's worldwide president, Johan de Nysschen, has been moving the brand away from its mass-market big sister Nissan brand steadily since he arrived in 2012. In his first months on the job, he oversaw the incorporation of Infiniti as a stand-alone car company: Infiniti Motor Co.
Late last year Infiniti also put its global advertising account up for review. Infiniti has worked for years with TBWA Worldwide, an affiliate of Omnicom Group. Omnicom's largest advertising client is Nissan.
"Personally, I think that's a great decision," Gunderson says of agency review. "There are a lot of great people at our agency, and I've worked alongside a lot of them. But I don't think you can be under one umbrella and have different marketing perspectives.
"I'm confident that Johan would not have taken on this challenge to lead Infiniti worldwide if he wasn't given the empowerment to do what's necessary to make us a success."
"Infiniti is no longer going to be Nissan-plus," he says. "We don't want to live in the shadow of Nissan."