Nissan’s brand managers believe their online fans -- which numbers more than a million -- will play a significant role in product planning. Hoping this belief would translate into a significant increase in sales, Nissan brand managers will start asking followers in Facebook, Pinterest and other media for help in planning future products this summer. According to Erich Marx, Nissan's director of interactive and social media marketing, the cyberspace offers a type of immediate focus group, which provides feedback to specific questions that managers and planners are contemplating.
Marx said this will take the company’s social media engagement to the next level, remarking that Nissan’s online followers are interested in what the brand is doing and where it is going. Marx quipped that Nissan plans to get the online fans’ inputs on where the carmaker should go. Nissan's director of interactive and social media marketing disclosed that the first trial of the project will entail asking the followers on the range of vehicle and technology choices they expect from car manufacturers in the next 10 years.
Marx said if the first trial proves to be a success, Nissan will ask more specific product questions. Nissan’s upcoming project that entails involving the online world in product planning represents a diversion from the current norm of conducting market research in controlled conditions usually through focus groups selected for specific reasons. The results of the traditional product are often kept away from the prying eyes of the public. However, involving netizens for public planning on social media sites could neither be called controlled nor confidential.
Marx admitted that the Internet is not the venue to discuss confidential future design ideas, but he places an inconsiderable value on consumers who are fans of the brand. This summer, Nissan would start receiving suggestions from nearly 1 million Facebook fans and around a million followers in Google+ and Twitter.