Gay Lea

Nissan’s sub-compact car, the Micra, is great on gas. Everyone loves fuel efficiency – it’s good for the environment, great for the pocketbook, but...

In other non-shocking news, 35 to 54-year-olds are grown-ups, who pride themselves on their financial stability and ability to make the grown-up decisions necessary to manage their family and finances.

So, when Nissan started working with us to relaunch the Micra to the 35-54 segment, so-called “best practices” would suggest that we hammer these rational grown-ups with mileage statistics and other logical data.

Best practices, though, would not take into account the learnings from the ethnographic research, the immersive auto shopping trips, the reflective phone interviews, the applied anthropology analysis of related contemporary narratives, or even our category semiotics analysis.

And so, best practices would have lead Nissan in the wrong direction.

Our work revealed that people in this demographic that were interested in a subcompact car, were indeed highly rational. But they were also driven by a uniquely quirky ethos. If this demographic were a television character, it would be Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.


Yes, they proudly conformed to their grown-up roles. But they ardently held on to their passionate “DIY ethos” for quirky hobbies and activities.

We developed a strategy based on ‘quirk’ rather than statistics. In their new messaging, Nissan stayed away from fuel efficiency stats, and instead talked about how the car “sips fuel.” They talked about spaciousness in terms of passengers (or enemies) transported, or as a personal “meditation zone.”

We also developed a very clear, but controversial imperative: We recommended Nissan discourage dealerships from trying to upsell customers to more profitable models and instead simply help them buy their Micra as quickly as possible because they already had done their homework by the time they showed up at a dealership.

Micra sales soared across Canada firmly leading the subcompact class. The breakout success was also credited with improving market share for other Nissan vehicles, including its luxury Infiniti brand.