Paul Gordon, experienced strategy advisor from AutoRQ and China watcher adds his perspective on a new move for Chinese brands as our guest blogger.
Unless you happen to work in automotive the chances are you haven’t yet heard of QOROS.
It’s a new car brand that launched in 2013 with a range of models that are well engineered and well designed to the highest standards.
Nothing unusual in that except that QOROS is a genuine Chinese brand with ambitions to launch in Europe in 2016 with a positioning around the new ‘Made in China’.
The assumption here is that western consumers had negative pre-conceptions about the quality of Chinese products and that QOROS is a representation of the new improved China or indeed, the catalyst for it.
It’s a brave and hugely exciting challenge.
If we reflect back 30 years, Japanese cars were largely ridiculed for poor build quality and driveability with no emotional appeal. In truth, they were a reflection of how the west perceived Japan.
The US is the largest and most demanding car market in the world and in 2013, Japanese brands took 2 of the top 4 places in terms of sales and 3 of the top 5 in terms of desirability.
South Korea started from a similar position and in recent years has enjoyed phenomenal sales success with Kia and Hyundai and many European volume car brands now see them as their principal competition. Of course Samsung has made a huge contribution to re-positioning South Korea as a producer of quality brands, but the South Korean car industry is rightly proud of its role in building that nation’s reputation for quality.
QOROS will have huge challenges. Building its own brand won’t be quick, cheap or easy. Its cars will need to deliver on product quality, its distribution network will need to be efficient and deliver an excellent customer experience and its marketing will need to be powerful, engaging and differentiated.
If it does the basics well it has every chance of being the catalyst for the new ‘Made in China’ and be a pioneer for a host of other Chinese product brands.
Let’s hope it succeeds.