Text: Zheng [email protected] Qing Said AI Editor-in-Chief
Recently, Jihu Automobile, whose sales were sluggish, began to “play Huawei’s idea” again.
According to Fan Jingtao, vice president of BAIC BJEV, only by teaming up with Huawei can Jihu Auto develop a new market for smart cars and maximize benefits. Dai Kangwei, general manager of BAIC Blue Valley, said in an interview that BAIC Blue Valley will enrich the product line, and Jihu will accelerate its development with the help of Huawei channels.
In fact, Jihu established a cooperative relationship with Huawei as early as three years ago. At that time, Jihu provided Huawei with an advanced autonomous driving cooperation platform.
But what I didn’t expect is that now BAIC not only carries Huawei’s intelligent driving and Hongmeng cockpit on the polar fox, but also wants Huawei to help sell cars. But the question is, will Huawei really treat Jihu as a “pro son”?
And for Jihu, it has already lost its “soul”, and now the profits from the sales link have to be handed over to Huawei. This kind of car-making Jihu is more like a foundry.
But the problem is, there seems to be no better way to boost sales. According to public data, Jihu only achieved sales of more than 6,000 units in the first half of this year. As a brand that has been on the market for almost two years, its sales in the past six months are not even as much as the monthly sales of the just-released Wenjie M5.
What is even more incomprehensible is that, according to the Tianyancha APP, BAIC Blue Valley, which launched the Polar Fox brand, is actually the earliest domestic auto company to deploy new energy.
Although the car sells very little, the sound of Jihu’s marketing is very huge. According to reports, in the first half of this year, BAIC Polar Fox held a number of powerful online concerts successively. Cui Jian, Luo Dayou, the Black Panther Band, the Tang Dynasty Band, and the new pants all appeared on the platform of the Polar Fox.
The embarrassing thing is that these phenomenal concerts have been praised by fans, but Jihu, as a sponsor, has not achieved a significant increase in sales. Is Jihu’s big marketing money wasted?
Is Jihu’s marketing an investment or a cost?
Regarding this wave of “big thunder and little rain” marketing, Wang Qiufeng, president of Jihu Automobile, once said: “We can’t expect large exposure traffic to be converted into sales immediately. Brand cultivation is a long-term process.”
However, in fact, Jihu has been a brand that has been in existence for nearly two years, and there is enough time for marketing campaigns. So where is the problem?
We might as well use the basic principles of advertising to analyze the puzzle of Jihu’s marketing cost sinking.
Generally speaking, the output of enterprises’ advertising investment includes “tangible” output and “intangible” output. The “tangible” output is reflected in the sales revenue of the product, that is, the advertising investment can bring a direct increase in the sales volume and sales revenue of the advertiser’s product. Obviously, the tangible output of Jihu Advertising is far below expectations.
The “intangible” output of advertising investment refers to brand image, that is, advertising investment helps products establish a brand image that is different from competitors in the minds of consumers, thereby improving brand awareness and loyalty. This is advertising investment most important output.
When it comes to brand image, we can’t help but mention that Jihu is a high-end brand of BAIC. In the early days, most of BAIC’s new energy sales depended on the B-end market and revenue mainly came from government subsidies, and quality problems occurred frequently.
In 2018, a total of 135,700 new energy passenger vehicles were recalled in China, of which BAIC led the recall with 69,000 vehicles, accounting for nearly half of the total recalls of new energy vehicles. Therefore, the brand image of Jihu is implicated in the early brand image of BAIC New Energy to a certain extent.
Moreover, the automobile industry is a typical strong brand effect industry, and the positioning of Jihu is a high-end brand, the proportion of “intangible” output of advertising investment will be very high.
Therefore , it is precisely because the brand image is originally a weakness of Jihu Automobile with a BAIC background, so most of Jihu’s generous marketing money is to resolve users’ distrust of Jihu.
The famous advertising master Ogilvy has a famous saying: “Every advertisement is a long-term investment in the brand”. This sentence also confirms a truth: the brand is the valuable asset of the enterprise.
If the brand equity is compared to the deposit in the bank, then because of the low brand power of BAIC, Jihu is equivalent to the existence of liabilities in the brand equity.
In other words, new power brands such as Jihu and Wei Xiaoli are not on the same starting line. Li Xiang once founded Autohome, He Xiaopeng once founded UC, and Li Bin once founded Yiche.com.
These big guys with Internet backgrounds are more user-oriented in building cars, and they will more or less bring Internet and intelligent genes to car brands. So there will be more or less some brand equity. For Baidu and Xiaomi, one has strong intelligent technology and one has many ecological users. Lei Jun has also gained the recognition of many rice fans by virtue of his charisma, so it is equivalent to depositing a large amount of money in the brand bank.
So it’s not surprising that the sales of Jihu’s advertisements are not reflected. If you want to blame it, BAIC’s previous reputation is too poor. Now Jihu pursues the “technology-based doctrine” and hopes to use heavy marketing to reshape users’ trust. It is inevitable to hit a wall. .
In addition, advertising investment has a certain delay effect, and intangible output will gradually transform into tangible output over time. And Jihu invited Cui Jian as its spokesperson since mid-April, but the sales in September were still only 1,000 units, so the delay effect of advertising was not well reflected in Jihu.
This is mainly because buying a car is an important decision-making behavior. It takes a long time for users to know the brand of Jihu, to become interested in Jihu, and then to have a desire to buy until the final purchase behavior.
Maybe some users have the urge to learn more about Jihu after watching the concert. However, after comparing other competing electric vehicle brands, I feel that Jihu has no special features and will not proceed to the next stage. Therefore, the tangible output of Jihu heavy marketing has not formed a closed loop.
“Technology” + marketing drive ≠ high-end brand?
In view of the fact that the brand power of Jihu is “inborn”, senior leaders such as Fan Jingtao, vice president of BAIC New Energy, and Wang Qiufeng, president of Jihu Automobile, have issued a consistent “prescription”.
That is to cling to Huawei’s thigh, hoping to let Jihu join Huawei’s smart channel to help Jihu sell cars. But will this trick work?
In terms of brand high-end, BAIC Polar Fox and BYD Tengshi are very similar. BYD, which has the highest sales of new energy vehicles in China, has been labeled as low brand for many years.
The Denza cooperation between BYD and Daimler started in 2012, but since then the BYD executives who participated in the operation of Denza withdrew and were operated by Daimler, which shows that BYD has no right to speak in the cooperation. Face to cold ass.
Therefore, although Denza Motors claims to be the first Sino-foreign joint venture new energy vehicle brand, it will integrate the technology, craftsmanship, design and other resources of BYD and Daimler, but Daimler also pinned its hopes on the Mercedes-Benz EQ series for new energy vehicles. Tengshi does not get resources and is inclined to be like a poor child who is fostered in someone else’s home, lacking food and clothing and stunted.
On the other hand, Jihu relies on Baidu and Huawei for intelligent technology, and Magna for OEMs. Now, it is also required to choose Huawei for car sales. In fact, it has been stated that BAIC does not seem to be able to operate a high-end brand like Jihu.
But what is certain is that there are a lot of car companies that want to be the sons of Huawei. And from the perspective of Huawei’s first choice of Celis for in-depth cooperation, it is much easier to empower a small OEM than to “fill in the hole” for a polar fox with brand assets and liabilities.
On the other hand, even if Jihu has achieved superior product power by virtue of “technological use”, can it create a luxury brand with overwhelming advertising?
For example, Infiniti has been trying to expand the market since its localization in 2014. In fact, Infiniti’s product strength is not bad, and even once equipped with the same engine of Mercedes-Benz.
In terms of advertising, Infiniti invested heavily from 2014 to 2016, and successively sponsored several popular TV programs such as “Where Are We Going, Dad”, “A Bite of China 2”, “Speed China”, and even invited French Sophie Marceau, known to men as “forever love”.
However, Infiniti’s sales have never been able to meet expectations. With the rapid growth of its competitors, Infiniti has fallen from a second-tier luxury car brand to today’s fringe brand, dubbed “Nissan Plus”.
On the other hand, the current polar fox is quite similar to Infiniti, which lacked core technology and promoted high marketing. As for whether it will repeat the mistakes of Infiniti, it depends on the creation of the polar fox.
The Pros and Cons of Extreme Fox Marketing
In addition to binding Huawei, if you pay attention to some of Jihu’s marketing measures, you will find that Jihu’s marketing operations also have some merits.
For example, instead of adding high-end models to the original product lineup of BAIC New Energy, it created a new brand.
From the meaning of the name, the word “extreme fox” draws inspiration from the extreme and mysterious arctic, and integrates the leaf shape representing green environmental protection into the brand logo, which can trigger positive associations among users. Using Jihu instead of BAIC BJ as the product name of the new brand can also avoid being polluted by the bad reputation of BAIC New Energy to a certain extent.
However, in the official brand activities held by Jihu, the position of suppliers was too prominent, but it concealed its own technical advantages.
According to Liu Yu, chairman of BAIC BJEV, Jihu Alpha S is not only the world’s first mass-produced high-level assisted autonomous driving model, but also the first 800V high-voltage platform super-charging product and the first fully redundant architecture Production car.
According to Tan Qing, AI understands that Jihu also has a self-developed motor named “Jifeng”, which adopts a highly integrated design and is 7kg lighter than the original Siemens motor. In terms of batteries, we pioneered the “dry and wet separation” thermal management technology in response to the battery temperature problem in the industry.
So since Jihu has his own skills, he should actually learn to “brighten his sword”. Too much use of cooperative suppliers as the highlight of marketing, its own product strength is covered up, but it makes users doubt the lasting competitiveness of this car company.
Another problem with the marketing strategy is that in terms of product positioning, Jihu’s user positioning is not focused enough.
At present, there are more and more brands of new energy vehicles on the track, and the competition is getting more and more fierce. Every brand that wants to get out of the circle must grab a unique label. For example, NIO is known for its high-quality services, and Li Auto targets the baby-daddy crowd for precise marketing.
In the official introduction of the Jihu brand, the goal of Jihu is to create a family-based product of “high-performance racing car + mid-to-high-end smart home car + driverless intelligent terminal “. It has to be said that this position is too vague . When it comes to “high performance” and “high-end”, there are no less than ten new forces that can be thought of, and Jihu did not convey the differentiated highlights of the product to users.
Perhaps the product strength of Jihu has been greatly improved compared to BAIC’s early new energy vehicles, but Huawei’s participation has also raised the price of Jihu Alpha S a lot, from the range of 250,000 to 350,000 to 39- 430,000 or so. This price is already on the same ladder as Weilai.
But unfortunately, Jihu’s channels are not mature enough. As of September 2022, Jihu Auto has opened and operated 171 stores, and plans to have 186 sales stores this year. Both Weilai and Xiaopeng currently have more than 300 stores.
The coverage of offline channels means the quality of service to some extent. On the premise that the brand of Jihu has not been able to dispel the concerns of users, if there is no good service quality, I am afraid it will be difficult to impress the user group of high-end cars.
On the whole, in terms of marketing and investment, Jihu, under the leadership of Wang Qiufeng, is still the old way of traditional car companies. The only thing that is more shocking is that it is willing to spend money to hire a lot of stars. In today’s new energy era, this marketing method is actually relatively low, and the effect is relatively poor.
Comparatively speaking, new power car companies such as Wei Xiaoli rarely invite celebrities to endorse, but their brand recognition is also very high.
The most typical is Tesla. As long as Musk speaks frequently on social networks, there is no concern that Tesla cars are not followed. Tesla’s marketing team has previously reported multiple layoffs in order to save unnecessary marketing expenses, but Tesla is very willing to spend money on the acquisition of Twitter. After owning Twitter, Tesla can build Tesla’s long-term and stable private domain traffic pool based on the Twitter platform.
Another example is Weilai, which is keen on user co-creation in China. It is reported that as of October 2021, the daily active users of NIO App exceeded 230,000, and the user-generated content exceeded 12 million. The essence of its user co-creation is actually to build a private domain traffic pool.
Let’s look at Li Xiang and He Xiaopeng, who have often made remarks about the industry or technology on Weibo before. In the process, they have brought traffic and awareness to the brand in the cheapest way.
Therefore, in contrast, the marketing models of new forces and traditional car companies such as Jihu are not in the same dimension. The biggest problem with Jihu marketing is: it only has the ability to make money, but it has no creativity.
Since marketing mainly relies on celebrity platforms, even if the exposure is high, it is all public domain traffic, and it is difficult to convert it into Jihu’s private domain traffic with the help of the traffic brought by celebrities.
From a marketing point of view, Jihu actually does the marketing of new energy vehicles with the way of thinking of fuel vehicles. Not only the shortcomings of intelligent technology are made up by leading suppliers, but the marketing model also reveals a kind of deep pockets.
It is reported that Wang Qiufeng, the current president of Jihu Automobile, is mainly responsible for the overall marketing of the brand. Several concerts by Cui Jian, Luo Dayou and other stars on the platform were carried out under the planning of Wang Qiufeng.
After all the hustle and bustle, Jihu’s “money ability” brought an audio-visual feast to the fans of several stars, but judging from the sales of Jihu, the star fans have not been successfully converted. Maybe the marketing team should reflect, is it worth it to spend so much money?
Write at the end:
Judging from the experience of BYD Denza, it takes a very long time for a low-end car brand to counterattack into a high-end brand. Judging from the decline of Infiniti, it is impossible to burn a high-end brand by burning money blindly.
Fortunately, BAIC Blue Valley has been launched at present, and it has only been less than two years since the launch of the Extreme Fox Alpha S, so it is understandable that the sales are sluggish.
After acting as the general manager of BAIC New Energy on behalf of Kangwei, BAIC Jihu’s R&D expenditure has doubled. At present, BAIC Jihu’s three-electric technology is already at the top level in the industry. As long as a breakthrough in technology is found and product differentiation is made, the future of Jihu is still worth looking forward to.