NICK GIBBS

Infiniti aims 1-series rival at 'Pascale'

The Etherea concept (shown) previews Infiniti's new entry-premium model, which goes into production in the UK in 2015.
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Nick Gibbs is UK correspondent for Automotive News Europe.
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Infiniti knows who will be buying its BMW 1-series rival. "The target customer is a French lady called Pascale. She's 34 years old, living in London with an English guy who works in banking," Nissan global product planning boss Andy Palmer told Automotive News Europe.

Like other automakers, Nissan's luxury subsidiary creates a biography for a single target buyer before it starts development of a car.

"We pick a lead market, we pick a lead customer and we research in detail that lead customer," Palmer said last week.

The idea behind this extreme form of customer profiling is to give designers and planners a clear focus.

"Every car has a person with a name, an income and a lifestyle and that gives product planners a reference of where we're going with the car," Palmer said.

The more radical the car, the less mainstream the customer.

"We took a fairly extreme customer for the Juke [subcompact SUV] in order to drive the product planners and designers to create something more edgy," Palmer said.

This fictional customer usually lives in the country or region where the car will sell the strongest, but not always.

"There's a car in development at the moment where the biggest market is probably China, but I've chosen to take a Brazilian customer as the lead customer in order to bring more spice to the car," he said.

Palmer confirmed Nissan has already pinpointed the customer for the new Qashqai compact crossover, due next year, but wouldn't give personal details other than to say the person is urban and European.

Pascale, meanwhile, can look forward to delivery of her UK-built Infiniti entry-premium model in 2015.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at nick.gibbs@btinternet.com.

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