Why does China love Buick?
Reasons for the Chinese Success of Buick
In China, Buick is something of an automotive rockstar. In fact, its continual strong performance in the nation helped the company survive the merciless financial recession in the late 2000’s. Doing well in China is something many-a-carmaker desires, as the country currently holds the world’s largest auto market.
GM sells almost five times more vehicles in China than it does in the US, handily outperforming all other US manufacturers that sell there. What is the secret of the huge success GM holds overseas? Why do the Chinese love Buick vehicles?
The main factors for the Chinese passion for the Buick brand are: a prestigious history, strategic partnerships, and successful catering to the Chinese buyer. Let’s look more deeply into each of these elements below.
Buick vehicles have been in China since the early 20th century. Dating back to that time, the brand has been the car of choice for many famous (and powerful) Chinese political figures. Top fans include Sun Yat Sen, commonly regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern China, and Zhoi Enlai, the first premiere of the People’s Republic of China.
According to Karl Brauer of Cox Automotive, the connection between Buick vehicles and powerful, prestigious individuals was solidified in the 1950s. At this time, all the important representatives of state and government officials were riding around in swanky Buick models. The stylish rides stood out in stark contrast to other cars on the road at that time. This left a strong impression that continues to the present day.
In the 1990s, Buick partnered with a key local manufacturer, joining forces to create brand new vehicles that stood out from the competition. This move also left a lasting positive imprint on the Chinese collective memory.
In addition, Buick has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the Shanghai Automotive Industry. The SAI continually pushes GM to keep the quality of their cars high and the product fresh. As there is a lot of competition in China, this ensures that Buick continues to make the great vehicles that the brand is known for, illustrated by their high scores on JD Power quality and service metrics.
Catering to the Chinese Market
Finally, Buick has excelled at catering to the unique tastes of Chinese buyers and understanding that these are often much different than tastes in America. For example, high-powered executives in China love minivans. They perceive these long, comfy rides to be analogous to limousines. In response to this attraction, Buick has released upscale minivans with classy interiors roomy enough to transport the full entourage of powerful characters.
They’ve also found success in marketing to the younger generation. In fact, the average Chinese Buick-buyer is younger than 35. The automaker does this through high-tech, futuristic ads that depict wealthy urbanites riding around in Buick models.