To young people, the car has essentially become a mobile

imagesIt’s ugly and I wouldn’t buy it. But I’m not the target market. And you have to hand it to Nissan, they have come up with an intriguing social insight.

I’m talking about the US launch of the chunky little Cube, which bears an uncanny similarity to an iPhone on wheels. The similarity is quite deliberate, according to Nissan North America Christian Meunier: “We envision owners using their Cubes as one of their essential mobile devices, connecting with friends, sharing music and sharing fun,” he says.

Actually, the Cube – very much a youth car – long predates the iPhone, having first launched in 1998. Credit for this particular positioning must go to Nissan’s ad agency TBWAChiatDay which – you guessed it if you didn’t know already – also handles iPod and iPhone marketing for Apple.

I don’t think the parallel works at all levels.  iPhones, even in the USA, are far too expensive to be the exclusive preserve of youth. Whereas this $14,000 car is unlikely to appeal to anyone more mature. But as a planning insight the new Cube is not without interest.

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If you think about it, the slim, elegant smart phone of today’s generation is the equivalent of life in the fast lane in the Fifties. James Dean liked fast cars so much he managed to kill himself in one. Today, according to research conducted by CNW Marketing, young people – when asked what would most impress their friends – said an iPhone (80%). A new car came a distant second (20%).

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