Cadillac is a whole different animal in China. In the U.S., the brand is plagued by perception issues and memories of mediocre luxury at best. In China, Cadillac is aspirational.
Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, spoke with Automotive News about the success the brand has found in the market and he carved out why the Chinese are crazy about Cadillac. Foremost, Cadillac’s buyers are extremely young in China. The average age of a Cadillac owner in the country is just over 30 years old—an incredible feat for any brand in any market.
Ellinghaus said its customers don’t want to drive the neighborhood BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz, and they turn to Cadillac for something different.
“We have an increasing number of customers at Cadillac that say, ‘I want something different. I don’t want to drive a car that the entire neighborhood already drives, however good their cars are. I want a distinctive face in the crowd.'”
They also hold American society in very high regard.
“Many Chinese, even though they didn’t grow up with Cadillac in China, know about the heritage that Cadillac has and that it was once what I always call the automotive incarnation of the American dream.”
Cadillac’s current mix of product also works well for China. Both the U.S. and Chinese markets are very SUV, crossover and sedan centric, unlike Europe. It just so happens Cadillac has been poised for success with its current crop of sedans and CUVs.
“The great thing about the luxury market is that the customers tend to be more similar than they are outside the luxury segment. Commonality is something that is the case, particularly in China and the U.S. They both love sedans and SUVs; they love performance; they love distinctive design. ”
Cadillac’s success in China is very good thing for buyers in North America. Basically, Chinese buyers will bankroll future product and it has bought the brand flexibility amid lagging results in the U.S. Success in China means we may one day see a grand flagship that would never have been possible with a focus just on the U.S. market.