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Buick: A Chinese success story

I still look at the Buick brand as something for the post-60 demographic (though I must confess that demographic doesn’t feel quite so old anymore).

It’s an image Buick has been working to change for years.

But the beauty of globalization is that Buick doesn’t carry this sort of generational baggage in other countries.

Like China.

buick China website

The Chinese apparently love Buicks.

So much so that Buick sold 809,000 cars in China in 2013, compared with 205,000 in the US.

Crazy.

Here are some insights into why Buick has succeeded in China. An excerpt:

The common view of Buicks in China is different from that in the U.S. The cars are the choice of business people and government officials. Chinese executives are partial to minivans, which don’t come with the kid-hauling image they have here.

General Motors, which owns the brand, has capitalized on that popularity.

When it saw Chinese executives were partial to minivans, it designed the GL8 Luxury MPV just for the market, making it especially spacious and comfortable.

Buick is now releasing models in China ahead of the US.

Finally, let’s look at the Buick global gateway:

buick_global_gateway

This global gateway accurately reflects Buick’s leading markets in terms of sales.

And here is where Buick could be a bit short-sighted — it offers no localized websites for countries where I believe it intends to expand in the years ahead.

Perhaps all Buick needs is China. But what about Japan, South Korea, Taiwan?

Buick is clearly not our parent’s car brand any longer.

It’s a uniquely Chinese car brand.

 

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Chevrolet wants a consistent global brand — hopefully a consistent website will follow

Interesting article in the WSJ (sub. required) about Alan Batey, the new global brand chief of Chevrolet.

From the article:

Mr. Batey says he wants to unify the brand’s strategy. “We used to operate regionally with each country or local area doing their own thing,” Mr. Batey said. “That’s over. From now on we will operate as one.”

Among the changes: Mr. Batey this year introduced Chevrolet’s first global advertising slogan “Find New Roads,” due to its ease in translation. The Chevrolet design team, at 10 different studios from around the world, also now meet daily via virtual reality screens and conference calls to shape future Chevrolet vehicles.

While the article is primarily about branding issues globally, I can vouch for the fact that there is little global consistency in the Chevrolet (or GM) websites.

Based on the 2013 Report Card, the Chevrolet website was ranked #89 out of 150 websites, due in large part to lack of any one global design template. And given that Chevrolet supports more than 34 languages, a global template is not only essential to global branding but global efficiency.

Here is the Chevrolet.com home page:

Chevrolet.com US

And the China home page:

Chevrolet China

China is an extreme example.

The European sites are visually more in line with Chevy.com, though the underlying template is  quite a bit different.

Here is Germany:

Chevrolet Germany home page

Global inconsistency is not a challenge unique to Chevy. Most automotive websites struggle with managing local websites effectively, particularly companies like Toyota and Honda. The top three automotive websites — in terms of global consistency — are BMW, Mini, and Audi.

You can read more in our Automotive Report.

Chevy Find New Roads

Regarding the global slogan — Find New Roads — I’m not sure I agree that companies need to select slogans that can be translated easily. After all, Nike’s Just Do It slogan was near-impossible to faithfully translate and that didn’t stop the company from using it globally.

My recommendation is to avoid a global slogan altogether.

What is Starbucks’ global slogan? What is Apple’s global slogan? I don’t believe either company has one.

Let your products and services be your slogan. And put the money saved into that global website redesign.

 

 

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BMW: The best global automotive website of 2013

Logo of BMW

We included 14 automotive and supplier websites in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

The Web Globalization Report Card is an annual benchmark of how effectively companies internationalize and localize their websites and applications for the world.

Out of those 14 companies, BMW emerged on top.

Even though BMW won the category, it still ranks #44 out of the 150 websites studied, which means the automotive industry still has a long ways to go in terms of supporting web globalization best practices.

BMW emerged on top this year in part because its investment in languages. BMW supports an impressive 42 languages, behind only Honda  and Toyota. Over the past year, BMW added two additional languages.

BMW also stands apart in its support for local-language social networks. On its Brazil home page, for example, it includes this Facebook widget:

BMW Facebook Brazil

And a link to its Twitter feed:

BMW Twitter Brazil

Many companies have built entire teams around supporting their English-language social network platforms but have completely overlooked the importance of engaging with users in their native languages.

BMW does an above-average job of supporting a global design template. Many automotive companies have yet to embrace global consistency as a means of improving efficiency, global branding, and usability for people who often navigate between the .com and country websites.

BMW is weak in global navigation. In fact, none of the automative websites do a particularly good job of supporting a global gateway.

Here are the 14 automotive and supplier websites included in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Chevrolet
  • Ford
  • Goodyear
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Lexus
  • Mercedes
  • Michelin
  • Mini
  • Nissan
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen

Read more in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

Also included: The Automotive Global Benchmark.