Written by: Zhang Yi
In recent years, it has been an interesting phenomenon that observation-based reality shows like “Heart Signal” and “Goodbye My Love” have become incredibly popular. One key factor to their success is that every action of the observed individuals in front of the camera is magnified and amplified.
Sometimes, certain actions may just be coincidental and unintentional for the observed individuals, but they may appear to be full of untold stories to the observers and audience. As a result, these observers are often enthusiastic about interpreting what they see, despite most of the time being overly so, and satisfying our era’s tendency to prioritize emotion over truth.
Under the watchful eyes of the camera, the observing guests, and the audience, being overly interpreted or misunderstood almost becomes the fate of observed individuals. Of course, the more excessively they are interpreted, the easier it is to develop more dramatic and entertaining storylines, which is beneficial to show broadcasting.
When observed individuals put themselves in a wider and more public view, they inevitably expose themselves to a more diverse and complicated evaluation system. While they enjoy thunderous applause from those who like them, they are also bound to endure a storm of negative comments from those who do not.
As an observed brand in the new energy vehicle market, NIO is encountering similar circumstances.
Stand tall amidst the forests
2022, an emotionally overwhelming year, has come and gone. Some automakers could barely survive, while others became mere shadows of their former selves. However, NIO managed to defy the odds and achieved annual sales of 152,073 new energy vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 118%, crowning themselves the top new energy vehicle brand.
After almost a decade, this new energy vehicle startup has finally arrived at its moment of glory.
However, there is always a battle for the center stage within the highly competitive new energy vehicle market. Since NIO began to attract attention in the market, doubts and criticisms have been never-ending, such as “padding sales figures” and “B-end market share is too high.” Even though these opinions do not hold much water, NIO still senses an uneasy feeling.
However, things are often not without a cause, and more doubts often signal that transparency may not be enough. From some past clues, we can see that NIO does have some performance that raises suspicion.
For example, the sales difference between the first 10 months of last year and the insured vehicles alone was as high as 20,000, which begs the question of whether or not they are padding their sales figures.
Moreover, NIO initially focused on the B-end market. NIO’s co-founder and CEO, Zhang Yong, had been with BAIC New Energy when it achieved a monthly sales record of 100,000 units in 2017 by focusing on the B-end market. This raises questions about whether or not NIO is treating their B-end data in the same way.
The Nezha Auto responded to the doubts with a press release recently, expressing both grievance and anger.
On one hand, the press release clarified the doubts by data and statistics, showing that 96.07% of Nezha Auto’s sales in 2022 were covered by insurance and 87% were C-end users, which proves that the doubts are baseless. On the other hand, it called for fair reporting and mutual support to promote the rapid development of China’s new energy vehicle industry.
As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Nezha Auto, as a rising star in the new energy vehicle market, should learn to stand in the spotlight.
To stand in the spotlight, Nezha Auto should be able to tolerate criticism from the outside world. Although Nezha Auto’s marketing has always been relatively low-key, sales are undoubtedly the hardest core to promote. Every move the company makes in the market carries value worth exploring in the present and the past.
Whether it receives praise or criticism, it is a part of reality that Nezha Auto should accept as a central player in the market. Like BYD, Tesla, and Li Xiang, they all have gone through unfavorable situations and have made progress.
Furthermore, to elevate the brand, it is vital for Nezha Auto to stand on the stage. The CEO previously stated that “good products speak for themselves.” Although most of the company’s energy is focused on product development and production, Nezha Auto needs to make more efforts in marketing and brand promotion. However, limited by the size of the company and the available resources, Nezha Auto cannot make significant strides in marketing.In the current fiercely competitive market, the central stage is hard-won, but losing it could be a matter of a moment’s carelessness. Simply selling cars falls short of Nezha Auto’s actual position on the stage compared to other competitors.
While continuing to consolidate technological barriers and enhance product competitiveness, it is time for Nezha Auto to raise brand awareness.
Currently, with U and V, Nezha Auto has already firmly established a foothold in the mid-to-low-end market. Next, boosting sales of the Nezha S, releasing the sports car Nezha E, and opening up the second main battlefield in the 200-300k price range to concentrate efforts to impact the high-end market will be the top priority for Nezha Auto’s future layout.
However, the automotive market’s fiercest battle is also in this price range, where Nezha S is up against strong competitors such as Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y, BYD’s Han DM, Tang DM, and Hanma, Xiaopeng P7, and WM Motors’ M5.
At the Guangzhou Auto Show, Jiang Feng, Vice President of Nezha Auto said: “Nezha S will become the disruptor of B-class gasoline cars in a new form.” Nezha Auto intends to avoid the dragon’s lair in the 200-300k range of the new energy vehicle market and aims at B-class gasoline cars. However, will those interested in Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and other cars become users of Nezha S or Nezha E?
The huge gap between user groups determines that Nezha Auto is destined to have difficulty attracting users of B-class gasoline cars, with no way to avoid challenges from brands such as Tesla, BYD, and Xiaopeng.
For Nezha, high-profile marketing to gain brand awareness is a must. Zhang Yong also remarked in an interview: “I think we should use some of the methods used by other brands for promotion.”
Zhang Yong’s Challenge
In addition to new requirements for Nezha Auto’s overall investment in products, marketing, and branding, entering the mid-to-high-end market is also a significant challenge for Zhang Yong personally.
Zhang Yong has been honored as “one of the top four or five people who best understand how to sell cars in China at around 100k yuan.” His outstanding performance, from BAIC New Energy to Nezha Auto, is evidence of his well-deserved reputation.However, studying the market with an annual turnover of around 100,000 is the key to Zhang Yong’s success. Once out of this comfort zone, he faces the challenge of leading Nezha Auto forward in the mid to high-end market, surrounded by competitors. The pressure is on Zhang Yong.
In the mid-to-high-end market, Nezha Auto lacks brand momentum and is a newcomer who faces pressure from public opinion and competitive challenges. Zhang Yong himself may be a breakthrough point.
For example, like Internet companies that build cars, Zhang Yong can use his personal influence to give himself some internet celebrity attributes, and create a new marketing growth point for Nezha Auto. At some key time points, he can release public internal messages to empathize with industry insiders and try to make some opinions break through certain limitations. Instead of being questioned, it is better to take the initiative and gradually turn the tide.
Finally, in early 2023, the price war triggered by Tesla’s price reduction continued to expand. Currently, Tesla, Wanjie, and Xiaopeng are all reducing their prices. Nezha Auto also launched the “indirect price reduction” campaign on February 3, offering a down payment of 5,000 yuan and a deduction of 20,000 yuan for Nezha S.
This is the first battle for the new energy vehicle market at the beginning of 2023, and it is also the first battle for Nezha Auto to stand in the center of the stage of the new energy market. It is also the key battle for Nezha Auto to break through the situation and build a reputation in the mid-to-high-end market.
“If you want to be noble in public, you have to suffer in private.” Standing in the center of the stage, Nezha Auto and Zhang Yong can only fight back-to-back in this battle.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.