Infiniti has revealed how it develops a new car – by creating a lead customer to whose preferences the new vehicle would be suited to. Nissan’s luxury division, in fact, already has a fictional lead customer for the vehicle it is planning to compete against the BMW 1-series. Nissan global product planning boss Andy Palmer told Automotive News Europe that the target customer is a 34-year French lady named Pascale who is living in London with an English guy who works in banking.
Before developing a new vehicle, Infiniti first creates a biography for a single target buyer. Then, according to Palmer, the carmaker will choose a lead market, a lead customer and then research about the lead customer in detail.
This extreme form of customer profiling allows product designers and planners to have a clear focus. Palmer said that every car has a person “with a name, an income and a lifestyle,” providing product planners a reference of where they are “going with the car." Palmer remarked that they took a fairly extreme customer for the Juke subcompact SUV to drive the product planners and designers to create “something more edgy."
He said that a fictional customer typically lives in the country or region where the car will sell the strongest, “but not always." He disclosed that there is a car in development which the biggest market is likely China, but he opted to take a Brazilian customer as the lead customer to bring “more spice” to the car.
Palmer confirmed that Nissan has already identified the lead customer for the new Qashqai compact crossover that is due 2014. He declined to provide personal details aside from saying that the person is urban and European.