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CEIBS Holds 10th Annual China Automotive Industry Forum 2012

The Global Consumer

Session three, The Global Consumer, explored whether consumers are defined by location or whether they are converging toward a "global median", demanding the same types of products, quality levels and service regardless of location. Honorary Editor of China Automotive Review and China Business Update Wayne Xing, CEO of Berge Group Fernando D' Ornellas Silva, and Senior Director of TNS Automotive China Guillaume Saint shared their knowledge with the audience.

In his speech, "Global Consumer Trends", Dr. Xing reflected on transforming the concept of "Made in China" to "Made Better in China." The trends in global auto sales and consumer service that he outlined included: rapid urbanisation, mixing of best practices from the East and West, globally known brands, cars that are made for China, India, and the emerging economies, cars as a status symbol, and more reliance on social media for marketing.

Dr. Xing introduced some of the unique characteristics of the overall Chinese marketplace. Chinese companies are becoming greener and are embracing the Internet, he said, and are using popular platforms like Weibo to build their brand image. He also pointed to consumer trends in group buying, and increased use of mobile phone technology and apps for shopping, socialising, and working. Meanwhile, Chinese consumer taste pushes for bigger, taller buildings and skyscrapers, which are built impressively quickly, said Dr. Xing. Chinese consumers increasingly demand luxury, and the new buildings often cater to this demand.

In terms of the automobile market in China, Dr. Xing noted that in China, many cars are bought for government use, although individual buyers are largely in their 20s and 30s, and two thirds are first-time buyers. This may change in the future, he added, because the used car market is still very small in China. 

Fernando D' Ornellas Silva, CEO of Berge Group then analysed "Chinese Brands: An Approach to Latin America."

Latin America is changing quickly, with better monetary policies and financial reforms, explained Mr. D' Ornellas Silva. Many trade agreements have been signed, and the region has emerged strongly from the financial crisis: Latin America is expanding at an expected rate of 3.4 percent compared to 1.4 in the developed West, he said, adding that Brazil, China, Argentina, and Chile are the largest exporters to China, while Peru has the highest market share for Chinese cars.

Customer behaviour in these markets is different than in Europe and America, Mr. D' Ornellas Silva pointed out. Latin American consumers are more open minded and pragmatic, and are willing to consider Chinese brands as a viable option. Chinese brands are becoming popular, though effective branding in the Latin American market is a work in progress for Chinese auto makers. However, the visibility of Chinese brands has improved and current owners are generally satisfied with their purchase, noted Mr. D' Ornellas Silva.

He suggested that Chinese brands focus on improving quality, reducing emissions, and making their products more efficient and environmentally friendly.

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