How car brands attract Chinese consumers at 2015 Shanghai Auto Show?

2015 Shanghai Auto Show - Bentley Car Model

2015 Shanghai Auto Show – Bentley Car Model

At the last week’s 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, hundreds of vehicles have been shown from local carmakers to international luxury brands. Even with the Chinese car market slow down (in the first three months of 2015, overall sales grew only 3.9 percent), many big brands are still investing heavily in China. The annual car show is the perfect time to show off the newest models and attract all the media attentions. At the car show you can see age from 5 years old to 60 years old on a working day Wednesday.


2015 Shanghai Auto Show – crowd

In this crowded event, how does car brands make themselves stand out?

No more Flesh

How car brands attract Chinese consumers at 2015 Shanghai Auto Show_Look_At_Flesh_Sparrowmountain_TaoJiang

2015 Shanghai Auto Show_ Look At Flesh

This word’s direct translation means: look at meat / flesh (in Chinese is the same character). This word is popular with the car show because many car brands used sexy women appeal to attract Chinese consumers (mostly man). However this year the Chinese government has banned such immodest displays.

“One type of model was conspicuous by its absence at this year’s Auto Shanghai – the female glamour models, often in revealing costumes, who for many years have been a staple of Chinese car shows. The decision by organizers to ban the women has been seen as a symbol of the more puritanical mood currently being promoted by China’s leadership, which has launched a major campaign against corruption and excess.”  – By Duncan Hewitt, Auto Shanghai 2015: Despite Crackdown On Luxury, China’s Market Still Lures Foreign Brands – But New Challenges Ahead

This year the women dressed more modest.


2015 Shanghai Auto Show – Hostess


Concept Car

Marketing for cars is not just about selling the cars, more importantly it is about selling the idea. The idea of better self; better life; etc. Many big brands have heavily invested in concept cars to paint pictures for the consumers.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – concept cars

Set up

  • Show booth design/ moving decoration
  • Reception desk
  • Touch screen
  • Big screen
  • Merchandise

Some brands paid attention to details and design of the booth to stand out.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Booth Design


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Moving Decoration


Most of booths have pretty smiley hostess standing still photo perfect  at reception desk


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Reception Desk


A small touch screen is normally set up in front of the car model for user to learn more about the car. However at such crowed chaotic event, I doubt anyone use it.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show- Touch Screen

Most booths use big video screen to promote their car features and play TVC, etc.



Some brands added their merchandise displays to extend their product line.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Brand Merchandise



Entertainment is a MUST at Chinese car show. Somehow it has became industry standard to have non-related fashion show, dancing, singing performance at the car show.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Robot


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Sculpture



2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Performance


In between those performance, host and hostess would tell you the car history and introduce you the newest feature in details with big screen visuals. Occasionally some Chinese woman and foreigner man will model around the car or romantically dancing near the car to sell you the idea ( see pic below)


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Host Tell Brand Story



For car photo interaction, I have to mention the car cleaning lady. Interestingly the car brand hired all foreign workers to clean their car in slow motion. I have waited almost 10 minutes to get the pics of the car without the cleaning lady. Is it necessary to clean a showcase car in show motion in such a crowed car show in Shanghai?


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show- Car Model Cleaning Lady

Many brands encourage interaction with the consumers. As scanning QR code is very popular for everything with we chat in China. The girls dressed up with QR code T-shirt and shorts seem ignorable.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – QR_code_Girl


Few car brands have more interesting engaging experience.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show- Game


Shanghai’s state-run auto group SAIC used small blocks to creatively builded up an interactive wall. I think it was an successfully installation because not only brands can deliver their message, get people’s attention, but also can allow any age group to particulate such fun interaction.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – SAIC physical interaction


Another car brand did a big stunt-drive set up. However the execution was a failed. As shown in pic, banners and toilet signs completely distracted people even notice this amazing set up. As a result, only few people were watching. Fewer have participated with stunt drivers.


2015-Shanghai-Auto-Show – Stunt Drive Experience

In China, car brands use big screens and big shows to attract people’s attention. Every year the bigger the car show the better. As Chinese consumers are getting more sophisticated, these tactics will not be enough anymore. Right now people are expected to see big shows with car show. However after a few minutes of satisfaction, there is no more deep emotion engagement. Brands need to focus on the interaction and engagement level with the consumers if they want to stand out.


See other posts about China Marketing:

A Billion Dollar Industry – M&M’s concept store trend in China 

How Luxury Brands Tell Their Stories To Chinese Consumers?

“Red Envelope War”? – More than $200 Million USD “Hong Bao” fight in Chinese New Year



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