TV key for automakers in China

20 October 2010

SHANGHAI: Automakers seeking to engage Chinese consumers could gain the greatest benefits from using traditional media such as radio and TV, new figures suggest.

Research firm Synovate surveyed 68,000 people across 66 cities and rural areas in the country for its Media Atlas study.

It found 75% of respondents hoping to buy a new car or motorcycle over the coming 12 months had watched TV in the last 24 hours, during which time 85% listened to the radio.

By contrast, just 21% had attended the cinema in the preceding month and only 17% recalled seeing out-of-home billboards in the week before the poll.

Among participants interested in purchasing a Mercedes-Benz, 100% had tuned in to a radio station and 50% viewed TV content the previous day.

The internet registered a considerably lower total on this measure, with numbers equally disappointing relating to outdoor covering the last week and cinema the previous month.

Web usage was higher for those aspiring to own a BMW, hitting 17%, while newspapers posted 16% and magazines delivered 15% - dwarfed by radio's 100%, but ahead of cinema and OOH, on around 5% apiece.

When contributors stated a preference for driving an Audi, radio again achieved a maximum, falling to 83% concerning magazines, 60% for TV and 40% regarding online.

Radio and TV similarly dominated where panel members desired a Toyota, with magazines generating 53% and newspapers recording 50%.

"The findings indicate to automotive marketers and advertisers that radio is, no doubt, the most welcome media for various car buyers," Synovate said.

"Newspapers are an outstanding choice for Benz marketers, and TV is best for marketing Toyota."

Passenger vehicle shipments climbed 19.3% in September to 1.2m units, industry body the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported.

"September has always the best month for auto sales in China as people could then get behind the wheels for sight-seeing trips during the National Day holidays," said Sheng Ye, associate research director, Ipsos Greater China.

"Demand would usually stay strong till the end of October. But uncertainty about the policy side might continue to push up sales in the fourth quarter."

John Zeng, an analyst at JD Power Asia Pacific, predicted annual expansion levels may, unsurprisingly fall below corresponding figures from Q4 2009.

"Of course it's not possible to repeat the 80%- plus growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2009 this year. But there is no doubt that monthly car sales for the rest of the year could well exceed the 1m mark each," said Zeng.

Data sourced from Synovate/Reuters; additional content by Warc staff