SHANGHAI -- Elvis Presley is not lost on the Chinese.
At the biggest-selling Cadillac dealership in China, customers react to the brand's image the way Cadillac hopes customers everywhere will. Famous names in imposing silver lettering adorn a "wall of honor" at Shanghai Brilliance Hutong Auto Sales Co. There is Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Cindy Crawford, Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and, of course, one of history's most famous Cadillac customers -- Elvis.
It is a message the brand hopes hits home with China's uninitiated, yet ever status-conscious customer base: People who own, or are at least chauffeured in, a Cadillac are part of an elite 115-year-old club.
"Cadillac is associated with historical figures like U.S. presidents," declares 40-year-old customer He Zhenyu, an e-commerce executive who was among the first in China to snap up Cadillac's new CT6 flagship sedan last year. "Cadillac represents my individuality. The culture is the deal sealer."
That Chinese shoppers buy into Cadillac's heritage is one of many things going right for the U.S. luxury brand in the world's biggest market.
Cadillac sales are booming; its average customer age is a sprightly 30 years; the premium segment in general is poised to explode; and thanks to an assembly plant that opened just last year, Cadillac is now flush with local capacity to feed the growing market.