Warren Wang, Interbrand Chief Executive Officer, China, interviews Michael Ning, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Qoros Automotive. Michael talks about how Qoros is seizing opportunities in China that are emerging from the intersection of changing demographics and consumer behavior, a changing automotive industry, and rapid technological change.
Qoros was founded in 2007: What was the brand’s original purpose and how has this driven growth?
A decade ago, the automotive industry and the automotive market in China were mainly dominated by joint ventures and foreign enterprises. Chinese brands were relatively weak at that time and found it difficult to grow their market share. Despite facing huge difficulties, Qoros was found in China with the aim of becoming a premium brand that provides customers with world-class products and unique experiences.
It may sound insignificant now, but it was truly revolutionary to create and build up a completely new brand. At Qoros, we continued the tradition of improving quality and influence, which meant chasing a high-end positioning. First, we intended to guide cutting-edge design in the automotive industry. Second, we hoped to make that more user-friendly and intelligent. Finally, we aimed to create amazing user experience for consumers, in a way that is similar to the experiences they have when using Apple products. To this day, none of these beliefs and visions have changed.
Based on this original intention and ultimate purpose, we try to grow Qoros into a unique and premium brand in China. Our first product, the Qoros 3 Sedan, won a five-star safety rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro-NCAP). And our second product—the Qoros 3 Hatch—won the Red Dot Design Award in Germany.
In what ways is Qoros unique? How do you differentiate? What are your core competencies?
The brand positioning of Qoros is “新高端,” directly translated as “New Premium.” It is the pioneer of a new market in China and is leading the development of the Chinese auto industry. We see that Chinese consumers are gaining a deeper understanding of what a car should be, and we see the trend of “premiumizing,” as customers have a stronger desire to upgrade. Moreover, China is now building its own strong brands. These trends indicate that Chinese consumer habits are moving toward a higher level.
Consumers in the past were strongly inclined to choose cars that were more value-focused, but now they appreciate products with premium quality and innovative experiences and are gradually gaining satisfaction and pride in domestic Chinese products.
Meanwhile, our safety features, intelligent chassis-tuning system, and engines are all produced in cooperation with famous international brands, putting our worldwide resources to full use. This is a high-end brand in the true sense: Although we’re a Chinese brand, we leverage global resources to build this Chinese brand. “New Premium Vehicles” means trying to provide consumers with better product experiences through expressive design, innovative in-car connectivity, network capabilities, and services.
In order to provide a more humanistic service to satisfy consumers’ demands, Qoros has taken the lead in evolving networks between the driver and the vehicle, the vehicle to another vehicle, and the vehicle to the external world. Looking forward to the future, Qoros is becoming more and more confident in its ability to develop smart mobility solutions.
How does Qoros respond to younger consumer groups, and demands for more personalized and premium experiences? What innovations will be made in the future?
For young consumer groups, we are launching a sub-brand called Model Young. This sub-brand targets younger consumers in third, fourth, or fifth tier cities, who are more concerned about ultra-high value, rich features, and avant-garde design.
The intelligent and connected vehicles we’re developing will lead to more diversified services for consumers. We’re also extending the advantages of our traditional car. For example, Qoros has achieved best-in-class safety performance with its Qoros 3 family, as well as best-in-class cabin air quality compared to competitors in the market.
We’re also trying more innovative marketing approaches. We recently announced the introduction of a live-broadcasting show “疯狂的观致,” literately translated as “Crazy Qoros.” Co-developed by Qoros, Tencent Video, and Energy Group, the show is first in the nation to leverage savvy broadcasting technologies and the influence of celebrities to reach and resonate with today’s young consumers. Through this innovative marketing approach, Qoros will not just be able to raise brand awareness but also generate sales through regional marketing campaigns and road shows during the broadcasting.
Looking into the future, our products are also evolving to better cater to the needs of customers. At the Shanghai Auto Show 2017 this April, we unveiled the Qoros Model K-EV, a high-performance electric vehicle packed with an array of cutting-edge, future-oriented technologies.
Given the trends towards premium, what kind of brand experiences can Qoros deliver to realize customers’ higher expectations?
The first level is the interaction between cars and people. We are developing a new generation of intelligent automatic engines that reduce the use of fuel. While eco-friendly, these engines also add a different feeling—maybe a little fun—to the experience of driving. The second level is our clean air interior, which offers consumers a healthier environment. The third is the approach to always put customers first: from the test drive, to purchase, to follow-up maintenance, we are constantly improving these services. We pay attention to what consumers want and need throughout the entire process.
With the evolving connection between the digital and the automotive worlds, what opportunities are emerging for China’s auto industry? How will Qoros capitalize on this trend?
The Chinese have an advantage in the world of connected vehicles. We accumulated a lot of experience in the mobile internet industry, which can be applied to push the capabilities of connected vehicles. The Chinese have conducted extensive research on automobile development that informs innovation. The adoption speed of emerging mobile technologies is also faster for Chinese consumers, making this a ripe market for growing connectivity.
Western countries pay more attention to the security of information, which gives China an advantage when it comes to speed. From this perspective, this is indeed the land of opportunity for China.
As for Qoros, I think we should leverage our digital advantages to help realize the vision of intelligent and connected vehicles. But, of course, we will also continuously improve our engineering capacity and quality for future models.