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Navigating China’s Auto Market Realities

The Client

We are a market leader in the automobile industry and have always been churning out new and innovative products in the Western market.  We are sure our inventions will be well- received in the Asian continents as well.

The Background

With one of the highest car ownership in the world, one would think that compact cars would be warmly received in China for the ease of driving and parking.

However, study findings revealed that the automobiles are regarded as a status symbol in China. Drivers would be particular about the ‘face’ and ‘aura’ of the car rather than the functional aspects. Positioning the car as a prestigious brand to own or one with leading technology such as EV vehicles was also something to hoot about. For some Chinese, premium cars serve as status symbols for business use rather than personal need.

The Approach

Conducting ethnography research in China for car research is by no means an easy feat. A 2-hour ethnography interview in the car took 4 hours instead due to the heavy traffic jam. The client gained an in-depth understanding of the work commute journey of Chinese luxury car owners that was unlike those in other markets and experienced first-hand the unique challenges of driving in Beijing’s traffic jam.

The Outcome

We witnessed interesting but genuine consumer in-car behaviours such as having their breakfast, putting on makeup, making conferences calls etc. The sessions helped client to develop a HMI car system that allowed for a comprehensive mapping of local consumers’ needs and ideas/ technology which would help ease their drive to/ from work.

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