From context to action, Cadillac in China

Luxury Brand Positioning | Design Strategy | Luxury Trends | Key Opinion Leaders | Automotive

Branding in a maturing market to ever more sophisticated customers


The days of brands just showing up and counting on novelty or their “foreignness” in China are long gone, meaning that firms need to be both strategic and consistent in how they brand themselves.

Throughout the past decade China’s luxury market had been a bedrock of growth for firms across a number of industries. Capturing this segment, however, has become more complicated as Chinese consumer tastes and expectations are continually shifting. Cadillac, a world-renowned automotive manufacturer and technology leader with a diverse stable of brands, is part of General Motors Corp. Despite having entered the mid-lower (Class B and C) Chinese car market in the early 1990s, GM found out how hard it can be to introduce its premium brand, Cadillac, to the lucrative, high-end segment.

Global companies must constantly strive to strike a balance between local market needs and global strategy requirements. 

New product development can be ethnocentric (home market driven), lead market, or global-centric, and companies sometimes have to work hard to determine how to make an existing product fit local needs via its marketing activities. Knowing what Chinese customers’ true values, needs, and aspirations are, and where they are heading, can go a long way to shape authentic and effective marketing strategies, without the need to change the product.

CBi China Bridge was asked to provide both context and insight around the evolution and future trajectory of China’s premium and luxury automotive market by understanding the people at the center of the trend.


We created key recommendations to better connect with current and future target drivers of Cadillac cars in China, as well as an overview of the sector.

The resulting report, delivered as a hard-bound, fully illustrated color book, included an overview of key consumer behaviors and expectations, a timeline of the development of luxury in China, case studies and trend projections. The included insights were then used to equip global design and marketing teams with the knowledge they needed to not only align their understanding of how the market is evolving in China but to translate this understanding into design features and value for the brand to enable the company give the consumers Reasons To Believe (RTB). 

China Bridge not only helped our client identify gaps in branding and marketing efforts but also demonstrated that the brand had relevance and known heritage in China.

If you find yourself with a similar challenge, contact Francisco, our BD lead, to see how we can help bridge your next.

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