The meeting place and business platform for senior automotive executives

Autumn 2018

Automotive Pulse


Anastasia Varnavskaya, Head of the Automotive Portfolio at Adam Smith Conferences: What makes the Nissan brand unique?

Roel De Vries, Corporate Vice President, Global Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy, Nissan: What makes it unique is that we are very focussed on exciting Innovations and make the available to people in mainstream models. Good recent examples are the introduction of the first mass produced electric vehicle, the Leaf, the first volume car in Japan with autonomous drive or  the creation of a whole new cross-over segment with the European Qashqai


Anastasia Varnavskaya: What are the pillars of your communication strategy with customers?

Roel De Vries: We have decided to focus on Intelligent Mobility which consists of Intelligent driving which makes  you more confident and includes features like Intelligent around view monitor and autonomous driving, Intelligent Power which make driving more exciting which includes technologies like EV and new powertrains and Intelligent Integration which is all about being more connected.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: What is the key to success and longevity of the brand nowadays?

Roel De Vries: In my view it is always a combination of consistently delivering on those items that create trust (e.g. quality, safety and reliability) and to add to this exciting innovations both in terms of designs and concepts but more and more on technologies that makes driving more fun.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: How do you drive engagement and emotional connection with customers?

Roel De Vries: As a car brand we are lucky that most people are passionate about the products and are very keen to engage. Our job is to create content that feeds this interest. The big challenge in today’s marketing world is that we need be more and more agile and create more content in a much faster way. For people interested in our cars it is key to create touchpoints to experience the vehicles and test-drive our products.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: How do you manage a brand in the multichannel ecosystem?

Roel De Vries: It is all about integration. As a big brand it is not so difficult to create content for all channels. The key is to make sure the content makes sense when put next to each other and together they tell our story. To do this we need to change agency and internal models significantly from the way we used to work.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: What innovations have you introduced to enable the achievement of your marketing objectives?

Roel De Vries: It is not so much innovative ideas that will be the differentiator. We do a lot of them but by themselves that do not bring the change. The most significant innovation for us is in the way we work. We created Nissan United which a new agency model where we keep the expertise of individual agencies but we create one integrated team to executed this. The whole model is around data and insights which should feed all the content and investment decisions that will be made.


To make this work we need to change our internal processes and organisation too. No more silo’s is the base idea!


Anastasia Varnavskaya: Today we have an abundance of information. How do you overcome this challenge and keep customers tuned in to what you have to say?


Roel De Vries: By creating processes, structures and technology to be able to really listen, we call our direction “Nurve”, a unit which sole purpose is to stay close to the conversation and know what drives consumers. Due to the incredible fast developments of technology and data this is a never ending evolution.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: What is your content strategy?

Roel De Vries: Content should be based on insights and should be agile. There is little room for long-term planning of specific content. We need very strong narrative / storylines and a lot of flexibility and agility to deliver on it.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: How big a role does user generated content play in building a relevant and authentic automotive brand?


Roel De Vries: This is massive. Consumers are always in the driver seat. At best we can guide the conversation and hopefully influence it. All research for the last decades confirms one essential thing which is that worth of mouth and the opinion of friends, family and perceived experts always beats the content generated by the brand. If we are good we stimulate, motivate and as much as possible direct the opinion of the people so they can carry it forward.


About Roel De Vries

Corporate Vice President, Global Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy, Nissan

Born and growing up in the Netherlands, Roel always wanted to work in the automotive industry, inspired by a belief that purchasing a car is one of the most emotive investments a person will ever make in their lives. He first joined Nissan in 1994 at the European head-office in Amsterdam, having qualified with a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Engineering from Hogeschool Eindhoven, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Groningen.   Then in 1998, Roel took a role based in South Africa responsible for marketing. During his time in South Africa Roel became Director of Marketing and Sales and experienced incredibly fascinating and challenging times when the country went through significant political and financial changes. 


Following his time in South Africa, Roel worked in a number of global roles including General Manager Product Planning General Overseas Markets (2008 -2009), Program Director for Nissan's all rear wheel drive vehicles (2009 - 2010), before being appointed to his current role as Corporate Vice President, Global Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy in November 2010.

Maximising Service-Business Profitability and Customer Experience

Published on 7 December 2016 by Maria Danilova

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) − the largest economic group in the Middle East region − is currently facing a decisive moment with oil price falling and potential tax increases. Additionally, car sales within the region have increased at a much slower rate compared with the double-digit jump of 2014. To prepare for the years ahead, businesses need to diversify their operations to increase revenues and unlock profits.

ABOUT Erik Jonnaert

Erik Jonnaert is Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). Mr Jonnaert began his career with the Linklaters law firm. He subsequently joined Procter & Gamble, where he worked for 25 years in public and regulatory affairs, communications and stakeholder relations. Before joining ACEA, he was Procter & Gamble’s Vice President for External Relations in Europe and Asia. Mr Jonnaert is a graduate of Harvard Law School. 

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