Nissan Taps Leaf Owners to Drive More Electric Car Sales

nissan-11-full-page-croppedTo celebrate 100,000 electric cars sold worldwide and to inspire the next 100,000 buyers, Nissan says it has launched a digital program for its Leaf model in which existing owners share their stories and answer questions for prospective buyers who would like to know what it’s like to own a Leaf.

The feature, “Real Owners. Real Answers,” can be found under the Q&A tab within the Leaf page on the Nissan site.

To explore the site, consumers enter a question or a keyword and click “Go,” to browse owner responses. The brand says the site uses content tiles and suggestive search functionality to provide the most relevant answers.

The site also includes sample questions such as, “Why did you choose to drive an electric car?” and “Why did you choose the Leaf over other vehicles?” on clickable tiles that take users to a page with aggregated answers.

The site allows prospective owners to hear from people who are living with the Leaf every day and to see practical examples of how it has changed their lives, says Mike Awdish, Nissan’s senior manager of interactive marketing.

According to Nissan, the site features more than 500 quotes and 200 images, as well as original video.

In addition to crowdsourcing owner video responses, Nissan says the site has several videos of “unique stories,” such as that of Leaf owner Neal Wagner, who is shown using a journey to catch a sunrise on Maui’s Haleakala Volcano to charge his Leaf. Because of regenerative braking, Wagner is able to recharge his battery going downhill, Awdish says.

“We worked with a lot of owners on Facebook, who gave us examples and feedback and we curated both the text responses and photo responses,” Awdish says. “A few that had such great responses, we went out and shot video with them.”

Awdish says Nissan found owners on the Nissan Leaf Facebook page and pulled those owners to a separate community for this initiative.

The site also enables consumers to easily ask an owner a question on the Nissan Leaf Facebook page, look at specs, or build a Leaf.

Calling it a “living, breathing project,” Awdish also says he “fully [expects] to update [the site] over time with more questions and answers.”

According to Nissan, the Leaf has become the “best-selling electric vehicle ever” with global sales of more than 100,000 and U.S. sales of nearly 50,000.

“Since we’ve launched the Leaf [in 2010], it has been clear these early owners have been amazing advocates for the product and they talk about why they picked the Leaf or what they love about the Leaf,” Awdish says. “Being such a unique product and shopping experience, rather than Nissan answer questions, we thought, ‘Let’s let the owners provide the answers.’ From what we’ve seen in social, they are not bashful about sharing their opinions. And we wanted to curate that information into an easy destination for shopping for the Leaf.”

To push the site, Nissan has created a series of “engaging photo images that include great quotes from owners” that appear on the Leaf Facebook page, which has 200,000 likes. The brand is also using the hashtag #LeafAnswers on Facebook.

In addition, the brand has a Real Owners Real Answers Pinterest board that includes Place Pins to show where owners live and allows consumers to see regionality, Awdish says.

Nissan estimates that owners in 35 countries have saved more than $28 million in gasoline costs by driving the Leaf. According to the Nissan website, the Leaf starts at about $29,000.

The “Real Owners. Real Answers” campaign was created in partnership with digital agency Critical Mass.

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