Il Dragone Si Mangia Tutti

Quattroroute Magazine, December 2009

by Daniele Sparisci

Italian language article on China's acquisition of international brands, which includes quote from Bill Russo.


  1. Comment on Marketing and Branding implications.

    One of the main reasons why Volvo ended up having serious problems that led to its sale by FORD was the lack of intelligent marketing. Volvo vehicles were not necessarily well positioned in the mind of so many potential, existing and loyal customers, as they were in the past. Now, under new ownership, I WONDER IF THE VOLVO BRAND WILL BE ABLE TO PERSIST SIMILARLY POSITIONED AS IN ITS GOOD TIMES; an extremely safe and excellent quality high-end vehicle.

    It is obvious that the Chinese market will keep growing extraordinarily, and I BELIEVE A BRAND LIKE VOLVO MIGHT HAVE GREAT MARKET OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN CHINA. However, when it comes to some foreign markets, I wonder if Europeans and/or Americans would be attracted to buy a Chinese Volvo. In that sense, GEELY MIGHT GAIN EXCELLENT INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION MOSTLY TO IMPORTANT EMERGING AND LESS MATURE AND DEMANDING MARKETS, but in spite of having a brand with embedded technology it will be tougher for the Chinese manufacturer to get to premium markets such as Japan, the US and the EU.

    I believe GEELY WOULD NEED TO WORK VERY HARD ON THE PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF EFFECTIVE GLOBAL BRANDING FOR VOLVO if it really expects to sell overseas, especially to mature, demanding and know-how exporting markets. Geely will not only be dealing with a brand that might be perceived as a “failure” in many markets, but also with the still common stigma of “made in China” and its negative brand building implications that should not be underestimated when it comes to a luxury brand. As we know, the more luxurious a vehicle is, the stronger the emotional benefits customers expect that include prestige, status, recognition, fulfillment and success, etc. Besides economic and functional benefits, emotional and even aspirational benefits are difficult to build and to deliver.

    Again, ANY SUCCESS OF A CHINESE VOLVO OVERSEAS WOULD GREATLY DEPEND ON AN EXCELLENT AND INTELLIGENT POSITIONING OF THE CORPORATE BRAND AS WELL AS ITS PRODUCTS, depending on the markets. In any case, I SEE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES - AND NEEDS - FOR GEELY TO RE-ESTABLISH OR RE-INVENT ITS VOLVO BRAND, focusing on domestic and other important emerging markets that will lead the volume sales that will allow the automotive company to grow.

    Thank you for sharing this interesting topic and article Bill.

    Best regards, Rodolfo HERRERA

  2. Hi Rodolfo,

    Excellent insights on the very serious risks for Chinese acquisition of international brands...thanks for your comments!

    Bill Russo