Audi, BMW and Mercedes carry strong brand influence with China consumers

(July 2010) Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz enjoy particularly high brand influence with consumers in China who intend to buy a passenger vehicle within the next 12 months, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2010 China New-Vehicle Intender Study. Among non-luxury brands, Buick and two Volkswagen joint-venture brands — FAW-Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen — perform especially well in brand influence.

A few highlights are included from the second annual study, which measures brand influence, in addition to evaluating pre-purchase perceptions and considerations among a sample of 5,181 consumers in 50 cities in China who intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next 12 months:

• The top three factors considered overall by consumers who intend to purchase a new vehicle are: vehicle comfort; whether the vehicle is easy to handle; and the vehicle’s exterior styling.
• Vehicle safety and reliability also rank among the top 10 consideration factors.
Vehicle purchase intenders who are considering compact and premium compact models place more importance on price and gas mileage than do those intenders who are considering models in other segments.

Intenders who are considering midsize, lower premium midsize, upper premium midsize and SUV models place more focus on exterior styling than do intenders in other segments.
Among intenders in all segments, the major reason not to consider a certain make or model is negative word of mouth recommendations from family and friends.

The Internet and auto shows are the most effective channels to connect with and influence vehicle purchase intenders in China.

Implication: When searching for vehicle information on the Internet, purchase intenders most often seek reviews and advice from other consumers. In 2010, reviews and recommendations surpass price as the type of vehicle information that purchase intenders search for most often. Understanding which marketing messages resonate with vehicle purchase intenders in China—and the optimal platform for delivering these messages—is essential for marketers.

— Dr. Mei Songlin, general manager of research at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai