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BMW revamps China marketing to focus more on tech, less on show

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 17:08
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German top-of-the-range carmaker BMW on Thursday denied suggestions in a newspaper report that it might have cheated in pollution tests on its diesel cars, as rival group VW has admitted to doing.

[BEIJING] BMW AG will increase spending on online marketing in China and emphasise its technology as part of efforts to target younger buyers, who care more about the latest features than the emblem as a status symbol.

The world's largest premium-car brand will highlight technology features, some developed especially for the Chinese market, such as steering settings that help with parking and seats that help tone muscles. The company will also offer free Internet connection in its cars for 10 years.

That represents a move away from promoting the brand in China as a mark of success, after a two-year study of more than 3,000 consumers showed younger buyers preferred value such as innovation and sustainability. BMW, like other premium automakers, had in the past played up extra legroom and plush backseats in marketing their executive sedans, stretching them for the China market because businessmen and bureaucrats liked being chauffeured.

"The Chinese market is at a crossroad for fundamental changes," said Karsten Engel, BMW China's chief executive officer, told reporters in Shanghai. "As the Chinese market is getting more mature and normalised, the post-80s' and 90s' are emerging as the main consumers of premium brands, the innovative strength of our products will be certainly more appealing to the Chinese consumers." BMW is adjusting its marketing strategy amid an increasingly competitive and slowing China market. Deliveries slowed to a 2.5 per cent gain during the first six months, which the Munich-based company is targeting to improve in the second half with the introduction of the new 7-series sedan and hybrid X5 sport utility vehicle.

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