BMW focusing on brand equity in China

7 January 2013

BEIJING: BMW, the German automaker, is relying on its brand equity rather than the origin of its products to further improve sales in China, reflecting a desire to use the "same voice" at the global level.

The company has been active in the world's most populous nation for a decade through a joint venture formed with indigenous partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings.

Speaking to the China Daily, Olaf Kastner, president and chief executive of BMW Brilliance, reported that there were a few core reasons informing its strategy in the Asian country.

"The first is [that we use] the same voice and same face to our customers. We will not say that this car is made in China or that one is imported, and then treat customers differently," he said.

"There are no BMWs made in Germany or made in China, there are only cars made by BMW. This is a very important factor to our success."

More specifically, he suggested that the brand equity underpinning the BMW marque – like a focus on meeting the highest possible standards – was of greater significance than where its cars are made.

"Inside BMW, our pursuit of quality never changes. As long as we say that the car is made by BMW, the quality and other criteria are the same across the globe."

BMW began production at a new plant in Tiexi, based in the city of Shenyang – where BMW Brilliance has its headquarters – in May 2012, and expects to deliver some 200k units from this site in 2013.

The firm's sales were pegged to reach 300k units in China in 2012, up from 15,500 in 2004. "Of course we have a very clear goal, the most important of which is not sales - that is only a matter of time," said Kastner. "What we care most about are clients."

It also hopes to introduce a new brand, owned solely by its joint venture, this year, expanding its "new energy" portfolio, an area where China is well-placed to take the lead.

"Why we chose China to develop such a new brand is because we all know China has a large number of vehicles and a very fast urbanization rate," Kastner said.

"We urgently need several new energy or new concept models to solve traffic congestion and other problems in urban development."

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff