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Nissan Australia managing director Richard Emery says the company is more focused on re-building its brand than simply selling a volume target — a methodology that stands in stark contrast to the policies of previous management.

Speaking with Australian media last week, Emery said a big focus for him was shifting internal and external perceptions on what Nissan’s brand represented.

This means axing low-margin models, up-selling buyers into higher spec grades, and spending money selling a brand message rather than a price point — not “throwing the kitchen sink” at a low-profit deal that’s good for buyers, less so for Nissan.

“Nissan got into a bit of a cycle being dependent on our base model price point cars for volume,” Emery admitted, much of which came from ambitious targets, excess stock on grass and discounts to clear it.

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“But we’ve seen with X-Trail, Qashqai, Pathfinder and Navara, we’ve found a way of selling people up our model range, which has been a really good thing for us in terms of adding brand value, quality perception…

“Because we’re not just seen as a whitegood with a base price point. That’s been a really subtle shift externally and internally.”

In this model, Nissan’s sales volumes of upper-spec variants such as the Navara ST-X, and Ti versions of the Qashqai, X-Trail and Pathfinder, as a proportion of volume, become vitally important. Sales of these variants are tracking well. For instance, about 40 per cent of NP300 Navara sales post-launch were ST-X.

It also explains partially why Nissan Australia last week announced it was axing the Pulsar hatch and Micra, both of which sold in the thousands annually but were low-yield products against better-regarded rivals.

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“Those… cars probably didn’t make a big difference to how much money we or our dealers made, so impact is minimal,” he said.

Emery emphasised his point by citing the fortunes of the Pathfinder. “We were struggling to sell 250-300 a month, and to do so we were spending lots of money discounting and giving an aggressive price point to extract sales.

“We’re now doing 500 a month on the same car, and I’d be spending half as much on discounting and incentives as I was. Spending quality marketing money on brand, and comparing quality to quantity.”

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