Nissan recently announced it will be adding an innovative bodystyle to its Murano line-up: a two-door soft-top it calls the CrossCabrio. It will retain the Murano’s drivetrain, including all-wheel-drive availability so potentially a vehicle for all seasons. Compete used a combination of survey and clickstream to determine some early consumer perceptions of the vehicle and the environment in which it will play.
Styling Sends a Message
Murano styling has always been unique and the CrossCabrio’s is even more so. To determine what type of message the CrossCabrio’s styling was sending, we asked nearly 1,000 online consumers to assign a brand to a picture of the vehicle (the Nissan badge on the grille was deleted from the photo). Respondents could choose from any current vehicle brand. The most common response was BMW. Another 10% selected Toyota. Nissan ranked #12 at under 5%.
Compete also asked about the extent to which the CrossCabrio’s attributes (which were listed) would help or hinder sales, again without revealing the brand. The most positive results were for “all-wheel-drive” with nearly three-quarters of respondents stating it would help consideration followed by styling (65%), seating for four (64%), and being a mid-sized vehicle (63%). Being a convertible was somewhat polarizing (to be expected) but still positive outweighed negative by nearly 2 to 1. The biggest challenge, according to respondents, was the two-door configuration: over half reported that would hurt consideration. Of course, for those adverse to two-doors, they can opt for the 4-door Murano, though would have to forgo the drop-top.
One way to measure the impact of adding the new bodystyle is through changes in cross-shop results. Compete charted the extent to which Murano shoppers also shopped what could be seen as like vehicles over the past year. Among vehicles shown, Murano shoppers cross-shopped the Ford Edge the most. Edge is also the freshest model, redone for MY 2010. More recently, Murano natural cross-shop patterns (leading cross-shopped vehicles independent of arbitrary segments) have included many smaller SUV/Crossovers such as Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, and Hyundai Tucson (not shown). Higher cross-shop of smaller models may be related to higher gas prices, though CR-V has been in the Murano top-10 natural cross-shop set many times in the past year. None of these vehicles offer two-door or convertible versions.
Adding the CrossCabrio could mean the Murano cross-shop set includes more “romance” models, such as coupes. Had it not been discontinued, one might expect the set to include the PT Cruiser convertible (also a 2-door convertible version of a hard-top, 4-door crossover). Other than that, consumers will dictate what the true in-market rivals actually are.
The Murano CrossCabrio certainly has the potential to be a “segment-buster” and a halo product for Nissan. Respondents’ input on attributes influencing consideration also suggest positives for sales results, though there is often a big gap between consideration and purchase.
Logical next steps for evaluating the impact of adding the CrossCabrio include:
- Understand how the Nissan brand impacts sales potential by repeating the above survey while letting respondents know it is a Nissan product, including leaving branding visible in the images
- Track changes in Murano cross-shop patterns to identify what new vehicles enter the natural cross-shop set and for how long
- Track Murano reverse-cross-shop results (the extent to which shoppers of other vehicles cross-shop Murano) to quantify market-wide where the Murano has most successfully penetrated rivals’ market space.
- Compare pre- and post-CrossCabrio shopper volumes, conversion, and sales. Murano conversion overall may weaken: coupes historically have posted worse conversion than sedans and trucks because consumers are often less hesitant to purchase for practical reasons (such as difficulty in reaching the back seat—if they even have one—because of being a two-door only)
Lincoln Merrihew is the Vice President of Transportation at Millward Brown Digital. At Millward Brown Digital, Lincoln is responsible for steering the Transportation Team, which encompasses the automotive and travel practices. Before Lincoln joined the Millward Brown Digital team, he worked at TNS Custom leading the Automotive team, and then continued on there to lead business development for 10 different industry verticals. Lincoln's career aspiration is to create game-changing solutions and insights. Connect with Lincoln on LinkedIn.