Mercedes-Benz’s “Image Makeover” for Western China
Mercedes-Benz may be 126 years old, but they seem to know how to keep their image fresh – particularly in western China. Sales for the brand in China have increased from around 200,00 units for the year 2006 to around 200,000 in 2011. And even though the passenger vehicle market in China may be idling, Mercedes-Benz is still seeing healthy growth: nearly 88,000 units were delivered in the first five months, an increase of 13 percent year on year.
The company views their success as stemming from its well-maintained image. “As the inventor of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz has a history of 126 years. Since that time the Mercedes-Benz brand has always had passion and youthfulness at its core,” said Mao Jingbo, vice-president of marketing at Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd. “It’s also a brand for sporty driving pleasure.”
But the brand is not shy to update, to keep the image at its freshest. “Mercedes-Benz has sports products. Other than the all-new ML 350 we brought to Xi’an today, it deserves a mention that all four of the Mercedes-Benz SUV models will be presented with new images to consumers in 2012, a product year for the Mercedes-Benz SUV family,” Mao said. “Mercedes-Benz is a brand born for energetic drivers. Our products are young and sporty.”
Western China seems particularly receptive to Mercedes-Benz’s evolving image. “Over the years, cities in western China, such as Xi’an and Chengdu, have witnessed dramatic growth and changing lifestyles that demonstrate the region’s huge market potential,” said Bjorn Hauber, executive vice-president of Sales and Marketing at Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd. “Although the region currently contributes 15 to 20 percent of our overall business, it’s more interesting that we see the highest growth rates in the western China markets, led by the two cities.”
The rapid growth, naturally, makes this a very important market for Mercedes-Benz, which in turn influences the company’s development strategy.
Hauber said that growth in the west, coupled with efforts of the Chinese government to further develop the western region, “has compelled us to place an even greater focus on achieving sustainable development in this market.”
Recently, Mercedes announced the establishment of its fifth training center, this one in Xi’an. A western regional office has also been established there.