THE CHINESE PREFER EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN CARS
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Published on Thu, Jul 14, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
New-Vehicle Purchase Consideration Rates Shift Toward European Models and Away from Japanese and Chinese Domestic Models Among Consumers in China HOT WIRE—In the USA, consumers often perceive domestic cars as lacking in quality compared to the Asian brands. It seems that buyers in China have the opposite perception. They prefer European and American brands over Asian brands. Reflecting the changing nature of the automotive market and consumer preferences in China, purchase consideration for models from European manufacturers has increased notably while consideration for Japanese models and Chinese domestic models has decreased, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2011 China New-Vehicle Intender Study SM (NVIS) just released. The study, now in its third year, examines pre-purchase perceptions and considerations among consumers in China who intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next 12 months (referred to as new-vehicle intenders.) The study is designed to provide key consumer insights by investigating brand awareness, purchase considerations, rejection reasons, media usage, as well as consumer perceptions of various automotive models among new-vehicle intenders. In total, 65 vehicle brands and 161 models in nine segments are included in the 2011 study. The study finds that the proportion of new-vehicle intenders who say they would consider purchasing a model from a European automaker has increased to 32 percent in 2011 from 25 percent in 2009. An increasing number of new-vehicle intenders indicate having positive perceptions of vehicle safety and improvements in engine and transmission technology for European models, and recall receiving strong recommendations for European models from family and friends. Meanwhile, among new-vehicle intenders, the consideration rate for Japanese models has declined to 27 percent in 2011 from 32 percent in 2009. An increasing proportion of intenders are citing concerns about quality and reliability and concerns about dealer service for Japanese models; and cite a lack of recommendations from family and friends. Consideration rates for Chinese domestic brands have also decreased—to 20 percent in 2011 from 26 percent in 2009. The primary reasons for lower consideration rates for Chinese vehicle models include concerns about poor quality, negative consumer reviews and ratings and a lack of recommendations from family and friends. “This study gives us important insights about effectively managing the flow of new-vehicle intenders throughout the upper purchase funnel, especially at the consideration stage,” said Jacob George, managing director of J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai. “Consumers having concerns about product quality and reliability in the upper portion of the funnel are unlikely to be swayed by lower price in the lower portion of the funnel.” The study finds that expertise and service of the dealer, social status portrayed by the vehicle, and the vehicle’s environmentally friendly features play a more important role in generating consideration in Tier 1 cities, compared with Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Low price and proximity of the dealer location are less important to new-vehicle intenders in the major cities than intenders in the lower tier markets.
Although a variety of factors can affect consideration rates for a particular model, the top three considerations overall among new-vehicle intenders are vehicle comfort, whether the vehicle is easy to handle and exterior styling. Other key considerations include gas mileage, engine size, maintenance costs, expertise and service of the dealer and whether the brand has a broad dealer network. The study also finds that creating strong awareness and favorability for the vehicle brand plays a key role in raising consideration rates for a particular vehicle model. J.D. Power uses Brand Influence Scores to measure not only how many intenders are aware of a brand, but also how much they favor a brand. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz each achieve particularly high brand influence among new-vehicle intenders in 2011. “Brand awareness does depend on location; for example, in the South region, Japanese brands have particularly high brand influence due to their long tenure there,” said Dr. Mei Songlin, general manager of research at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai. “Manufacturers should focus on improving awareness in strategic locations through marketing and improving favorability through promoting product features and customer experience.” A dynamic official website is a key primary marketing platform for informing and influencing vehicle intenders. Nearly seven in 10 intenders visit the manufacturer’s website to collect or verify vehicle information. Appearance of the website and ease of navigating through the website are the two most important features for vehicle intenders, followed by usefulness of website information/content and speed of pages loading on the website. Nine in 10 vehicle intenders search online for vehicle information. The types of websites visited most often by intenders for vehicle information are general portal sites, search engines and video sites. Social media also plays an active role in vehicle marketing, as online forums, social network sites and blogs attract a significant portion of intenders. Models with the highest levels of consideration in each segment include: • Compact segment: BYD F0 and Chery QQ3 • Premium compact segment: Chevrolet Sail • Entry midsize segment: Volkswagen Polo • Midsize segment: Chevrolet Cruze • Lower premium midsize segment: BYD F6 • Upper premium midsize segment: Honda Accord • Luxury segment: Audi A4L • SUV segment: Volkswagen Tiguan • MPV segment: Buick GL8 The J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2011 China New Vehicle Intender StudySM (NVIS) is based on responses from 4,979 new-vehicle purchase intenders in 53 cities. The study was fielded in March 2011.
About J.D. Power and Associates Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies