Acura has sold an average of 45,000 MDX’s per year over the past 5 years and Infiniti has some MDX envy. A keyselling point of the MDX, Infiniti believes, is its packaging including a third row seat—something all Infiniti’s except the industrial-sized Infiniti QX lack. To address that, Infiniti is launching its new Infiniti JX featuring a third row seat. The JX will slot between the QX and smaller FX in terms of size and price.
Infiniti dealers have been hosting prospective customers at showrooms to view pre-production JX’s. Representatives at these events have hinted Infiniti wants to sell 45,000 JX’s per year in the US. That would make JX Infiniti’s best selling SUV/crossover (QX sales totaled 13,400 in 2011, FX 9,900, and the smaller EX 6,000), and second best-seller overall after the G sedan/coupe (58,200 units in 2011)
Compete calculated how many JX shoppers Infiniti will need to reach sales goals by benchmarking shoppers and conversion for other luxury crossovers. Shopper volume calculations represent the number of active, in-market shoppers and leverage Compete’s patented ability to gather and normalize in-market behavior across the internet, while avoiding false positives. Conversion, similar to a close rate, represents an automakers success at converting shoppers into buyers, and is the ratio sales to shoppers.
Compete started with the 45,000 annual JX sales goal, which equates to 3,750 sales per month on average. Next we calculated average conversion rates for three luxury vehicles: Mercedes GL Class, Acura MDX, and Infiniti’s own QX based on the past 13 months. Conversion is a function of prices, availability, mix, distribution, incentives, inventory, etc. GL’s conversion was highest at 24.8%. We applied those conversion rates to the monthly JX sales goal to calculate shoppers needed (e.g., if JX can convert shoppers on par with MDX’s 14.5% it would need 25,907 shoppers per month to reach sales goals—see table and chart).
JX average shoppers needed ranges from about 15,100 to 32,500. Even on the low end JX would be the most shopped Infiniti SUV/Crossover (below). FX has averaged approximately 10,000 shoppers per month over the past 13 months.
Getting in Gear
So JX is charting new territory in terms of specs and capabilities, but also for Infiniti SUV/crossover shopper volumes. The above assessment is a weathervane look at where JX needs to be but not granular enough to ensure a successful launch. Additional granularity should include:
- Create a monthly launch roadmap
- Roadmaps are reverse-engineered combinations of shoppers and conversion that produce actual monthly retail sales goals
- They are created recognizing amount and timing of ad spend (generates shoppers) and production volumes (supply, which can be a conversion enabler or inhibitor), and reflect norms for the segment.
- Validate positioning during the heat of launch
- Ensure messaging is reaching the target audience at launch by quantifying the extent to which target rivals’ shoppers are cross-shopping JX
- Ensure JX is not cannibalizing other Infiniti sales by gauging within-brand cross-shopping
- Track launch resonance
- From launch, compare actual shoppers, conversion, and sales to Roadmap levels and refine marketing and other tactics as needed
- Track rivals to reveal competitive responses as well as untapped market whitespace (including shoppers of non-target rivals that are heavily cross-shopping JX).
Lincoln Merrihew is the Senior 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.