Nissan Mailers Ignite SUV Launch

Nissan North America started the fall release of its new high-end SUV, the Nissan Murano, with a mailer last month to more than 250,000 existing customers.

The piece went to current owners of the Pathfinder, Maxima, Altima and other Nissan models.

“We wanted to do something unique for our owners,” said Melissa Adams, Nissan's manager of direct response marketing. “The idea is to raise their awareness and interest in the car. We took that group of owners and lessees and filtered it down to people with annual income in the area of $50,000 who are in their mid-20s to mid-30s.”

Nissan, Gardena, CA, currently has the Pathfinder and Xterra SUVs. Both are more rugged and truck-like than the Murano, appealing to drivers interested in off-road driving. The Murano is being marketed as a more upscale vehicle along the lines of the Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW SUVs, though Nissan would not reveal the expected sticker price.

“It is more of a refined ride built on a car platform as opposed to a truck platform,” Adams said. “We are looking at this as more of an on-road SUV and not an off-road SUV.”

The mailer, which includes a cover letter, is a high-end piece that has a four-page foldout display in the center. The cover of the piece reads: urban SUV. The booklet has inside and outside shots of the car along with information on special features.

The mailer contains a business reply card for the consumer to request more information on the Murano. Consumers are asked to provide their names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses as well as what other types of cars they have in their households and what other Nissan models they are considering.

Those who respond to the mailing will be contacted with another mail piece when the second stage of the campaign begins in late December, Adams said.

Nissan also is sending a similar mail piece to 15,000 people who either visited the Web site or auto shows and filled out a form requesting information on the car. Another 800,000 current customers, some of whom will include the 250,000 recipients of last month's mailer, will be notified about the Murano through billing inserts in July statements.

“If they received the first piece, the insert will serve as a reinforcement,” she said. “And it will serve as notification to those that didn't receive the first piece.”

Those who respond to the mailing or billing inserts likely will get follow-up

e-mails as well, Adams said, though there are no definitive plans.

Adams said Nissan also will send a lease retention mailing to customers whose leases may be ending around the time the Murano becomes available.

“This will not be an official lease extension mailing or program,” she said. “But we will simply ask them to look into the possibility of extending their lease in order to get into a Murano when their current lease expires.”

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