Analysts in China say General Motors’ habit of touting its cars on the big screen in “launch and leave,” type marketing campaigns could hurt the automaker’s sales in the region down the road, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Jonah Brown, a Beijing-based consultant with firm Millward Brown, says GM and some Chinese automakers launch their new models with flashy, high circulation and repetitive ad campaigns designed to drum up as much excitement about the car as possible, similar to how movies are advertised. Brown says this campaign is risky because once the hype surrounding the movie has died down, it’s easy for consumers to forget about the car. The most obvious example of this is the Chevrolet Camaro, which starred as Bumblebee in the Transformers series of movies.
“The Chevrolet Cruze is not the latest ‘Transformers’ movie and dealerships are not cinemas,” Brown said. “People buy cars when they’re ready to, not on car makers’ launch schedules.”
“All car makers are guilty of this to some extent, but GM seems to ramp up and down in short-lived campaigns the most,” he added.
Brown explained that this could hurt GM in China as it chases Volkswagen for its number one sales spot in the country. VW’s ad campaigns do not follow the same trend and the brand’s reputation as a “car of the people,” will help sustain sales.
GM China president Matt Tsien acknowledged the problem and said the company will pay closer attention to its marketing techniques while under his leadership, according to WSJ.
GM’s marketing strategies in China will be crucial as the way consumers in the country purchase cars changes. Analysts say the majority of recent new car sales in China were conducted by first-time buyers who probably went with a familiar brand, such as a Buick, due to their lack of knowledge about cars. But when they purchase their second car, they may be pickier and switch to a new brand of car.