Brand Perception – A Real-Life Example

Brand Perception – Auto Shipping Companies

We are so used to living inside our own heads, that it can be difficult to imagine looking at the world in a completely different way, and seeing familiar objects with unfamiliar connotations. The fact that, despite thousands of hours of research and design, it’s ultimately not always possible to predict what customers will see when they look at your brand, is cause for infinite headaches for any CEO. While a company can invest efforts into managing its brand image, brand perception is often a matter of chance.

The experience that Western automakers have had in the Chinese market, as it has developed and grown over the past 10-20 years, underscores this point vividly. When it comes to an emerging market, an auto maker often can’t rely on an established reputation, and marketing expectations that would hold in a mature market which has been exposed to their brand for many years may not apply to a market that’s just getting to know your product.

The New York Times has featured a well-publicized article about the challenges and opportunities that Western auto makers face in the Chinese market. Certain reliable brand stereotypes present in the American market, such as the perception that Buicks are favored by older people, seem to be entirely the product of cultural aspects that don’t inherently carry over in the vehicle design, so that Buick has managed to secure a reputation as a trendy luxury car in the Middle Kingdom; the brand is now selling about a third more vehicles in China than America.

The reasons for these changed perceptions, when they can be traced, are both interesting and instructive. Audi has solidified a reputation as a respectable but not-too-flashy vehicle for government officials. This is because the car maker had the foresight to enter the Chinese market as early as 1988, by creating a joint venture with a local manufacturer that allowed it to produce vehicles locally. Two decades ago, foreign cars were an exotic sight in China, and Audis quickly gained a reputation as a mark of gravitas and prestige.

BMW, on the other hand, only established a Chinese factory in 2003. While the two brands are comparable in price, a BMW vehicle, due to its novelty, is a much more eye-catching statement than an Audi; this makes it unsuitable for government officials, since driving such a car carries unwelcome connotations of privilege and corruption.

These, and many other examples make it important for companies to consider first impressions when they enter an emerging market. China is experiencing a boom in all things automotive, and the new vehicle market, which has already surpassed that of the United States in number of units sold, will lead to increased demand for automotive services, as well. Auto shipping companies are jockeying for position in a new and competitive industry; a towing truck or a flatbed transporter is, for now, a rare sight on Chinese roads, but this is poised to change very soon.

After decades of Communist rule, the famously competitive and businesslike tendencies of the Chinese population have been unleashed; this is reflected in plummeting auto shipping rates, as different carriers try to outbid one another. Unfortunately, the race to the bottom sometimes leads operators to serve their customers badly, by failing to observe safety regulations and other necessary precautions.

At our company, we hold customer service and client satisfaction to be our highest goals; in addition to offering extremely competitive shipping rates, we pledge to remain in constant communication with our clients and resolve any problems promptly and thoroughly.

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