Nissan bats for Indian market with eight-year cricket sponsorship deal

Nissan Motor hopes to boost its appeal among cricket-loving Indian motorists through a major sponsorship deal with the game’s governing body.

The Japanese car maker yesterday signed an eight-year agreement with the International Cricket Council as Nissan looks to increase its market share in India.

The company will sponsor major cricket tournaments such as the ICC Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and ICC World Twenty20.

Under the partnership, Nissan will have extensive broadcast and digital rights at all ICC events until 2023.

Roel de Vries, Nissan’s global head of marketing and brand strategy, declined to provide a value for the deal, but said “it is a significant investment – double digits in the millions of dollars”.

He said Nissan had been increasing its marketing budget, a significant part of which is being increasingly allocated to sport.

Anna-Marie Baisden, the head of autos analysis at BMI Research, said the deal reflected Nissan’s wider push into India, along with its strategy of adding up to 100 dealerships by March 2017 and promoting the more affordable Datsun brand.

“They have picked a sport with a huge audience in the country, so from that perspective it is a big statement of intent,” she said.

Kaushik Madhavan, the regional head of automotive and transportation at the consultancy Frost & Sullivan, said Nissan’s tie-up with the ICC was part of its global plan of associating with popular sporting events.

“With India having significant viewership for cricket, this can potentially be a very good move to improve its visibility in the Indian market,” he said. “Nissan in India today suffers from poor visibility and awareness, especially in tier two and tier three cities. This collaboration could significantly change it.”

Nissan is looking to push its Datsun brand in India, which was introduced to the country early last year.

“It hasn’t been a great success story so far. As a brand, Datsun is struggling to increase its sales volumes,” said Mr Madhavan.

According to figures from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, car sales rose 6.2 per cent year-on-year in the six months from April to September. But figures from Frost & Sullivan show that sales of Nissan cars last month fell 58.5 per cent from a year earlier to 1,297 units, while sales of Datsun cars rose 29 per cent to 1,318 units.

“Nissan is far behind the likes of Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai in terms of market share and has been underperforming the market for the year-to-date, so to expect a turnaround overnight would be a stretch,” said Ms Baisden.

Mr de Vries said that as India was likely to become one of the top three car markets by 2020, Nissan was aiming to garner a 5 per cent share of the market over the next five years.

In April last year, Nissan signed a four-year deal as a sponsor of the Uefa Champions League, taking over from its rival Ford.

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Share This Post