SAIC’s Passenger Vehicle concludes annual dealers meeting with the focus on brand and market innovation
Nanjing was covered in silvery snow, on Feb 18, when SAIC Motor’s Passenger Vehicle Co held its dealers meeting for 2014, where they focused on brand positioning and marketing innovation, with Chen Hong, president and CEO of Passenger Vehicles, and Chen Zhixin, executive vice-president in SAIC Motors and GM of Passenger Vehicles, on hand to address the gathering.
The Passenger Vehicle Co sold 230,020 units, in 2013, up 15 percent year-on-year and, at the same time really improved its technical strength, bore fruit in its marketing innovations, and improved product quality and terminal strength and increased customer satisfaction. The company’s new energy vehicle also represented a breakthrough so, this year, the SAIC brand can face new opportunities and challenges.
Chen Hong spoke on striving for innovations and strengthening SAIC’s brands and pointed out that its passenger vehicles are the core to greater competitiveness, adding, “This is an important year for SAIC’s brand and strengthening the foundation. We need to seize all opportunities, overcome difficulties, and move ahead, and at the same time follow the auto industry development and market trends and make breakthrough.”
Chen Zhixin followed with a talk on innovation, emphasizing the need to take advantage of opportunities and innovate for more breakthroughs. He also laid out the work for this year, when SAIC will adjust its branding strategy for the Roewe and MG, make optimal use of brands, and try to be more competitive along the value chain, for sales of 280,000 units. The company also wants innovations in marketing, seizing opportunities to expand its markets and strengthen its marketing ability.
Optimal dual-brand use and pooling resources for brand power
SAIC Motor’s Passenger Vehicle Co saw some early results from its dual-brand operations, in 2013, with annual sales up 15 percent, year-on-year, and the Roewe 350 and MG3 making quite a hit, and Roewe 350 still in the “10,000–sales” club. Chen Zhixin described these sales as “ballast”. The company split up 20 dealers by brand and their sales grew 24 percent, over 2012. SAIC has adapted its Roewe and MG positioning to market conditions throughout the year. In the second half, the Passenger Vehicle Division started a brand-optimization project, first, diagnosing the Roewe and MG, then optimizing brand positioning for this year to deal with brand and product challenges and develop clear-cut product differentiation. The company plans to focus on consumer groups to provide them with tailored products and services to increase loyalty and get them to influence other groups.
The Passenger Vehicle Co will come up with a brand differentiation blueprint for the Roewe and MG and target customer groups and establish core brand value, communications, and marketing and promotion policies for a distinct brand image. After brand position is optimized, it will respond to operational results along the entire industrial chain and inject brand ideas into product planning, R&D, manufacturing, and services.
The company pooled its resources to raise the parent company, SAIC’s brand, based on the brand positioning and optimization strategy to ensure the completion of every task this year. Roewe sales are expected to dip in the new year, so there will be a special effort in the A-plus and SUV markets to increase brand recognition and credibility. MG will take advantage of its 90th anniversary and the new AP13 model will enter the market amidst publicity.
Improving product strength and gaining an edge in differentiation
SAIC Motor’s Passenger Vehicle Co made some headway, in 2013, in its power improvements and new energy, and digital intelligence efforts, and brought more quality experiences to customers. In the first half, the brand new Roewe 550 -- equipped with a lot of top technology, such as the TST-6 6-speed automatic transmission, Start-Stop intelligent energy conservation, and EPB intelligent digital parking -- and the introduction of the MG5 1.5T 6AT. They showcased the company’s R&D advances in power assembly and other key technology of the SAIC brand. In the field of new energy, the Roewe 550 filled a void in the plug-in, hybrid power vehicle market. And, in the area of digital intelligence, SAIC’s new generation, intelligent vehicle-mounted system, inkaNet3.0, made its debut, bring the customer a better experience and helping SAIC remain a leader in making things more intelligent. The Passenger Vehicle Co said that it will have differentiated product competitiveness for its own brands and joint-venture brands to meet the product experience challenge.
The company’s goal is to be a leader in traditional vehicle performance and it will continue to lead in fuel consumption, dynamics, weight, NVH, comfort, control, braking and security. At the same time, it will improve its digital-intelligence modeling, new energy technology and after-sales service to stand apart competitively from joint-venture products. The Roewe and MG will work for a unique design that meets market needs and digital-intelligence technology that evolves to build an open-car networking system and perfect OTA protocol to retain SAIC’s leadership in car networking. SAIC will push ahead in R&D on new energy vehicles and give equal attention to plug-in hybrid technology, next generation power systems, and power safety, conservation, and planning to ensure that its brands stay ahead of new market competition.
The after-sales service that saw rapid growth, in 2013, and the celebrity endorsements brought publicity and popularity, which helped increase sales, and SAIC will increase recognition of its after-sales service this year by developing APP software for daily maintenance and extend its service and other convenient, innovative experiences. Here, it’s worth noting that the company is thinking of integrating its car network with after-sales service to make up for any lacks in quality and differentiated service and will use its after-sales service to attract more customers. Chen Zhixin pointed out that the A-grade vehicle will provide the biggest market either in size or potential because, in 2013, its sales accounted for 59.6 percent of the total market. It’s very important for the brand to understand the future development of the A-grade vehicle market, Chen noted, adding that the Passenger Vehicle Co will roll out more than 10 A-grade models in the future, in addition to the Roewe 550 and 350 and the MG6.
Grasp opportunity, meet challenge and continue to innovation marketing system
SAIC forecasts 9.3 percent growth in domestic passenger vehicle demand, to 18.58 million units in 2014, and continued growth in the mid-level sedan market and SUV sector. In view of the stable economy and market growth, the Passenger Vehicle Co will look for sales of 280,000 units, in 2014 because, even though there is downward pressure on its brands, the opportunities still outweigh the challenges. The division will focus on market innovations, increased market share opportunities, and stronger terminal sale ability.
The company’s recognition and practice in network concepts helped increase online sales in 2013 and this will be a key point in new online sales channels in 2014, while looking for ways to reform the sales approach. It will also strengthen its online–to-online (O2O) ability, with online sales expected to reach 45,000 units, contributing more than 15 percent of total sales.
SAIC also made an innovative move by integrating its traditional and digital sales advantages and finished its digitalized cloud sales pilot, finalizing online and offline information output, customer experience feedback, its dealer sales terminal, and digitalized platform. This year, it will cover important auto shows with WIFI and its Passenger Vehicle Co will set up WIFI for 80 dealers and provide incentives to open a digital window on exhibitions and give customers an innovative experience and faster, more effective information to help the digitalized marketing branch.
The past year clearly showed that breakthroughs are based on innovation and reforms and SAIC will give full support to its own brands by helping them focus on innovation, branding, product, and sales and taking advantage of any opportunities for new leap in development.