Nissan revealed an interesting statistic at its press conference during the 2017 New York Auto Show: 36 percent of its buyers last year were Millennials, aged between 20 and 35.
That’s a huge deal, especially since it seems like just yesterday automakers and analysts were writing off this age group for being uninterested in driving and it was considered impossible to figure out how to market cars to this image conscious and tech savvy generation.
Nissan scored a home run with these buyers thanks to a number of reasons, but the Star Wars connection has really been a standout. “Buyers and dealers went nuts for it,” explained Christian Meunier, Nissan’s senior vice president of sales and marketing in North America. “There were events at dealerships, people showed up with costumes and could win gifts or tickets to new movies … it connected us to a huge fan base,” he said while pointing out that the various Star Wars-themed Rogues on display at the New York Auto Show “will probably be the most photographed vehicles at the show.”
He’s not wrong. It’s hard to ignore all the Star Wars branding going on in the Nissan booth, but there’s also the question of how the brand will continue this success with Millennials. To answer that, the company points to a few recent strategies: the Nissan College 100 program, which saw the automaker become the official sponsor of 100 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. It also sponsors various NCAA Championships.
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The automaker also seems to understand the impact of buzz. In addition to a Star Wars-themed car debuting at each new auto show, the automaker also introduces new quirky concepts. This time, it’s a spin on the Rogue Warrior Concept we saw conquer the snow in the past, now outfitted to tackle sand as well. The automaker also brought what it calls the Rogue Dogue, which includes special equipment like built-in food and water dishes, a custom removable dog bed, harness clips, built-in poop bag dispenser, slide-out cargo area access ramp, 360-degree dog wash shower and an integrated dog-drying system. Nissan even brought actual dogs to its booth at the show.
Meunier made it clear that the brand’s success with Millennials has a lot to do with these interesting show vehicles and concepts, which help keep Nissan in people’s Instagram feeds and in their minds when they buy new cars.
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