While German brands still rule China's luxury landscape, Cadillac has found a niche among millennials looking for distinctive designs. The brand's China sales are up 86 percent through May to 67,471 vehicles and running 13 percent ahead of U.S. sales this year, which are roughly flat.
Cadillac's chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, 48, shared his thoughts on Cadillac's brand power in China with Staff Reporter Vince Bond Jr.
On the typical Cadillac customer in China:
Our customers are young. The average age is a little over 30 for our new-car buyers. These are customers that totally acknowledge how good the three leading German brands are in China. They realize, however good their cars are, they are ubiquitous.
We have an increasing number of customers at Cadillac that say, "I want something different. I don't want to drive a car that the entire neighborhood already drives, however good their cars are. I want a distinctive face in the crowd."
There's also one fundamental difference that we benefit from. They aspire to the American way of life. Many Chinese, even though they didn't grow up with Cadillac in China, know about the heritage that Cadillac has and that it was once what I always call the automotive incarnation of the American dream.
Nobody can copy our heritage, our history. Our dealers in China sometimes try to buy vintage Cadillacs and put them in the showroom. It's incredibly important to remind younger Chinese audiences that didn't grow up with Cadillac just how forward-looking and -thinking our cars were in the past ... which resonates very well with the Chinese.