29.09.2003  -  München

Emotive Needs Drive New Car Sales in China - Consumers’ Desire for Status Gaining Importance in Marketplace

Shanghai, China September 29, 2003Consumers’ emotive needs are playing an increasingly important role in new car sales growth and brand selection in the Chinese automotive market, according to the findings from a new study by TNS and NFO WorldGroup.

The study revealed that the largest consumer segment growth this year has been among buyers motivated by the desire to achieve status, belonging, and attraction whilst the number of buyers seeking basic transportation has been declining over the past two years.

The China Brand Health and Needs Segmentation study was conducted jointly by TNS and NFO WorldGroup to understand the motivation behind the purchasing decisions of new car buyers in China and their perceptions of 34 major industry brands. Unlike traditional brand and motivational research studies where consumers are questioned directly about why they purchased a particular brand, this study uses a proven psychological framework to uncover the emotive needs that drive brand selection.

According to the study, the 40% of new car buyers in 2003 fall into the “Status” buyer category, up from 30% of new car buyers in 2001. In contrast, Utility buyers have dropped from 25% to roughly 10% during the same period. The study attributes this trend to a buoyant economy and growth in consumerism.

“Understanding the new car buyer’s emotive needs is the key to successful brand positioning and communication,” said Chris Bonsi, Regional Director of TNS and NFO Automotive. “In addition, while status is an unmistakable motivation for a luxury car owner, this need exists across buyers of all vehicle segments, including entry level passenger car buyers,” he added.

TNS and NFO researchers identified six major “need segments” in the Chinese market:

Each of these buyer segments is motivated by a different set of needs and their affinity towards a particular brand will depend on the brand’s ability to fulfill these implicit needs.

“The 80% sales growth during the first six months of this year was not driven by consumers wanting a car to get from point A to point B,” said Bonsi. “Clearly, there is a growing recognition that cars of particular brands have a considerable impact on one’s social standing. Before WTO, there were very few affordable cars that could fulfill these emotive needs for improving social status, attraction, and belonging. Now, there are an overwhelming number of aspirational cars for consumers to choose from, and this excitement of being able to buy social mobility is fueling the explosive growth in vehicle sales this year.”

Notes to Editor:
The China Brand Health & Needs Segmentation Study provides an in-depth understanding of the underlying needs that exist in China’s new car market and the brands that are fulfilling these needs. The report is based on 8,000 evaluations of 34 major brands in the marketplace. The fieldwork for this study was conducted among personal-use new car buyers from June through July 2003 in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The China Brand Health and Needs Segmentation study will be conducted on an annual basis to provide the industry with the most up-to-date information on their brand positioning and emotive needs of new car buyers. TNS will also be launching a syndicated customer satisfaction study among new car buyers in China that focuses on how manufacturers can retain their newly acquired customers.

About TNS
TNS is one of the world's leading market information groups. We provide market measurement, analysis and insight through our global network of operating companies in 70 countries. Working with national and multi-national organisations, we help our clients to develop effective business strategies and enhance relationships with their customers. In July 2003, the group completed the acquisition of NFO WorldGroup, Inc. Further information on TNS can be found on

About NFO WorldGroup
NFO WorldGroup is one of the world's leading providers of research-based marketing information and counsel. "Marketing minds specializing in research"(tm), NFO has facilitated Fortune 500 clients' business decisions for more than 50 years by providing in-depth knowledge and understanding of consumers and brands through research. Their services include comprehensive counsel on market evaluation, product development, brand management, customer satisfaction, pricing, distribution and advertising effectiveness. NFO is a worldwide leader in Internet-based research and maintains one of the world's largest interactive panel communities. NFO is one of the TNS group of companies (LSE: TNN).

For further information, please contact:

Chris Bonsi
Tel: 65-6226-1020
Fax: 65-6222-2436

This press release is provided for editorial use only. No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the press release without prior written approval from NFO (

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