Jaguar Expects China To Become Third-Largest Market In Next Few Years

Iconic British Luxury Automaker Sold Nearly 2,000 Vehicles In China Last Year

Jaguar's new XJ is set to launch soon in China. How will it do against rival offerings from BMW and Mercedes?

Jaguar's new XJ is set to launch soon in China. How will it do against rival offerings from BMW and Mercedes?

In China’s luxury auto market, European automakers remain at the top of the heap, with German brands like Audi and BMW dominating at the high-end and ultra-high-end marques like Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin opening new showrooms in Beijing and Shanghai.

With the Chinese auto market surpassing the U.S. last year to become the largest in the world — with plenty of room to keep growing — all of the world’s top luxury automakers have flocked there en masse looking to get a piece of the pie, but in such a crowded market, how do newer foreign entrants — who may not have the immediate brand recognition of Audi or Mercedes — expect to carve out a niche for themselves?

For iconic British automaker Jaguar, success in the China market has centered around establishing the brand as a choice for discerning individuals, rather than a mass market product. Although Audi has become the top foreign luxury automaker in China by virtue of its association with German engineering and reliability, it has also developed an image among China’s younger middle- and upper-middle class car buyers as a somewhat safe and boring choice. (Something probably not helped by Audi’s association as the “car of choice” for government officials.)

Jaguar is looking to avoid going down this path by promoting a more dynamic and youthful image, a strategy clearly designed to compete directly with BMW, which has also marketed heavily to younger entrepreneurs. According to Christopher Brown, managing director of Jaguar China, this “individualistic” marketing strategy has paid off, with Jaguar sales in China rising 34% in 2009 to 1,800 vehicles. From Shanghai Daily:

[Last year, Jaguar’s] robust sales propelled China as its fourth-largest market after Germany, where more than 3,000 Jaguar cars were sold in 2009. The car maker’s top two markets are the United Kingdom and the United States.

It recently launched the new XJ sedan which has attracted about 100 orders. Brown said the XJ is expected to boost sales in China by another 30 percent this year.

Brown said the growth in China’s economy has created a burgeoning middle-class consumers which has, in turn, triggered demand for luxury goods, including cars.

“Given the growth of the Chinese market and appreciation of our brand, China will be the biggest market for Jaguar in the future,” he said.

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