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Economic downturn has not slowed down Chinese car consumers’ demand levels


SHANGHAI — In the context of the economic slowdown and government incentives to support the auto market, Chinese new car buyers have become more discerning over the past two years, and have continuously raised their demand level when it comes to new car purchases. This is one of the principal outcomes of a survey conducted among 2,560 recent new car buyers in the major passenger vehicle markets on the mainland by market research leader, TNS Automotive China.

The study has identified a stretch of purchase motivations from basic transportation and the traditional success symbolism attached to car ownership, to more extroverted consumer needs. While “Show-off success”, “Fit in socially”, and “Basic transport” have sensibly declined (9, 3 and 3 percentage points respectively), motivations to buy a passenger vehicle such as “Increase popularity”, “Increase freedom”, and “Attract attention” have recorded the biggest increase (5, 4, and 3 percentage points respectively). In addition, family oriented motivations (“Take care of family” +5 percentage points; “Please family” +3 percentage points) have gained importance.

Survey results also reveal a slightly increased consumer commitment to brand, from 38 percent to 40 percent. “This has to be viewed in the context of a continuously rising trend observed since the beginning of the decade, a trend emphasising the growing notion of brand image in the purchase decision process” says Klaus Paur, Shanghai based TNS Automotive Director for North Asia. “More accentuated brand personalities help consumers to go beyond simple functionalities and allow them to express themselves through car ownership”, he comments.

Fundamental car ownership benefits such as safety, durability and manoeuvrability tend to become hygiene factors in all vehicle segments, and Chinese car buyers have been raising their requirements for optimised performances and interior design and comfort. This has lead to elevated category thresholds: car buyers in the small vehicle segment increasingly expect the use of latest technologies (+3 percentage points) and navigation equipment (+4 percentage points), while luxury car owners have put more attention on fuel economy (+3 percentage points).

“Fuel efficiency is a key selling point in the low- and mid segments. The rising sensitivity in the luxury segment, too, adds to the many opportunities for eco-friendly technology in the China market”, Paur adds.

About this study
First launched in 2003, TNS Automotive China conducted its 4th “Brand Health and Need Segmentation Study” from August to October 2009 to deliver insights for a better understanding of Chinese motorists’ expectations and requirements regarding new car purchases. TNS interviewed 2,560 new car owners within 7 vehicle segments in 8 cities across the mainland. The survey covered 43 car makers in the Chinese market.

About TNS
TNS, who recently merged with Research International, is the world’s largest custom research agency delivering actionable insights and research-based business advice to its clients so they can make more effective business decisions. TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive and Political & Social sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specialising in product development & innovation, brand & communication, stakeholder management, retail & shopper, and qualitative research. Delivering best-in-class service across more than 75 countries, TNS is part of Kantar, the world’s largest research, insight and consultancy network. Please visit for more information.

About Kantar
Kantar is one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 95 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

About TNS Automotive
TNS Automotive is the leading global provider of automotive market information and insights, with a specialist network of over 350 experienced and dedicated researchers worldwide.
Living and breathing automotive, our experts address the complex research needs of clients including major global automotive and tyre manufacturers, component suppliers, oil companies, repair specialists, parts distributors, dealerships and advertising agencies. Whether our clients are developing new products, optimising advertising and media expenditures, defining new market segments or consolidating their position in the marketplace, our complete portfolio of expert customised and syndicated automotive research solutions delivers added value.
We help our clients drive better business with innovative insights.


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