Currently operating six dealerships across the Chinese Mainland, over the last two years the British ultra-luxury automaker Aston Martin shows no signs of slowing its major China expansion effort, aimed at catching up to the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Though it's a relative newcomer to the market, Aston Martin has had a good run since 2009, selling a record 190 vehicles in China last year, double its sales in 2010. Looking to tap growing demand for ultra-luxury autos even as other auto segments show signs of a slowdown in China, Aston Martin recently opened its largest national showroom in Shanghai, and has new showrooms slated for Chongqing, Shenyang and Ordos. Earlier this year, Aston Martin projected that China will become its third-largest market, trailing only the U.S. and U.K., within only a few short years. Again following the lead of its fellow countrymen Bentley and Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin is also set to debut its own China-localized “Dragon88″ line of V8 Vantage S, Virage and DBS models at the upcoming Beijing Auto Show.
This week, Aston Martin announced another moved aimed at fueling greater awareness of its brand (and higher inland sales) with the hiring of Porter Novelli as its agency of record in China. According to a company release, the agency will be tasked with building brand engagement "with Aston Martin's target audience of ultra high net worth individuals in China." As Marcel Fabris, Aston Martin Asia-Pacific marketing and communications manager, said, "We have been looking for a PR partner who can really help us connect with our target audiences, building effective relationships between our brand, our dealers and our current and potential consumers." For their part, Porter Novelli plans to focus first on brand-building through the aforementioned Beijing Auto Show and the launch of a new Sina Weibo brand account for Aston Martin.
Aston Martin's current Weibo brand page stands in stark contrast to the far more dynamic accounts of brands like Audi and BMW, and just like Rolls-Royce and Bentley's dozens of local dealership Weibo accounts, suffers from anemic interaction and overall poor use of the platform. As a result, fans have been accordingly low to date, with Aston Martin's Weibo followers numbering only 1,573, as opposed to Audi's 284,232.