Audi Brand Perception and Branded Experience

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Audi Consumer Perception - UK

Depending on the customer demographics and factors being considered, there is a mixed positive and negative consumer perception of Audi in the UK. Audi is perceived as one of the most unreliable car brands, but also one of the best in terms of customer service.


  • Audi was rated the ninth most popular (most liked) and the second dmost famous (most known) car brand in the UK according to a customer survey by YouGov. Audi fans described it as a "well-made, beautiful design, good quality, safe and reliable".
  • The YouGov consumer positive perceptions are 59%, negative perceptions are 10%, and neutral perceptions are 30%.
  • Audi was rated the most popular and the most famous car brand among millennials in the UK.
  • Audi was rated the fifth most popular and the third most famous car brand among Gen X in the UK.
  • Audi was rated the 20th most popular and it was not among the ten most famous car brand among baby boomers in the UK.
  • Audi was rated the seventh most popular and the fourth most famous car brand among men in the UK.
  • Audi was rated the tenth most popular and the third most famous car brand among women in the UK.
  • News articles published by Auto Express UK revealed that Audi was not well rated by customers in surveys conducted by Driver Power in the UK.
  • In a Driver Power consumer survey of the most and least reliable car manufacturers in the UK in 2018, Audi was rated 20th out of 27 car brands.
  • Another Driver Power consumer survey on the best car manufacturers in the UK in 2019 rated Audi as 16th out of 30 car brands. The factors considered included infotainment systems, up to standard, good to drive, and service affordability.
  • DMA Customer Engagement: Focus on Automotive survey 2017 in the UK showed that Audi was the fourth most favorite car brand in terms of customer service.
  • Customer reviews on Trustpilot gave Audi a TrustScore of 2.2 out of 10, based on 348 reviews.
  • On Trustpilot, 76% of the reviews are bad, 5% poor, 2% average, 1% great, and 16% excellent.
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Audi Consumer Perception - Germany

Germans perceive Audi as a brand of innovation and seniority. Audi's quality of finish, seats, design, and fuel consumption are perceived to be better than its peers. Audi, like other German automakers, has lost brand value in recent years.


  • The Encompass Survey, a qualitative survey conducted by Zutt & Partners in September 2018, analyzed the emotions of consumers in Germany and Switzerland towards auto brands Audi and BMW. It found that Audi "communicates innovation and seniority" emotionally, while BMW conveys adventure.
  • Consumers perceive Audi's Quattro range as "primarily for problem-solving and overcoming obstacles", while BMW's X-Drive series is seen as fun or pleasurable to drive.
  • The gold standard of emotional fit or the favorite emotion of auto consumers in Germany is "adventure and driving pleasure". In its latest (in September 2018) campaign, Audi displayed a greater sense of adventure than BMW. However, overall, Audi's campaign was more in line with its brand image and did create " a great sense of innovation and seniority".


  • The "Data Science and Social Media" project conducted by the University of Cologne analyzed opinions and publicly available information to understand the consumer perception of brands. Millions of comments on social media were analyzed using natural language processing techniques and sentiment analysis procedures. The consumer perception of Audi was compared with that of BMW.
  • According to the study, Audi's quality of finish is perceived to be great. A report published by Auto Motor Sport confirms this: Audi cars had clean deburring, perfectly fitted trims, absolutely uniform clearances, and very good materials. The quality of the finish was better than peers (BMW, Mercedes, etc.).
  • Other features like seats, fuel consumption, design, space, interiors, quality, and acceleration were also perceived to be good.


  • The authenticity of a brand is important to 55% of consumers in Germany. Only 8% of Germans perceive brands as "open and honest". The three drivers of authenticity are reliability in quality and keeping brand promises, respect in the way consumers and their data privacy concerns are dealt with, and direct experience, which is a function of the sincerity in communication and brand integrity.
  • The 2017 Authentic Brands Index saw Audi fall 19 places from rank 3 to rank 22. Carmakers at large lost their authenticity in 2017; Mercedes fell from rank 7 to 35, Daimler fell from 8 to 15, and Porsche dropped to 41 from 28. BMW was the only auto brand that retained its authenticity.


  • As of 2017, Audi was one of the most sought after employers in Germany.
  • Kantar, a market research firm, found that both BMW and Mercedes lost 9% of their global brand value in 2019. They were the only two German auto brands among the top 100.
  • The debate on climate change, the transition to electromobility, and the diesel affair have diminished the brand value of German automakers. While Audi did not make it to the list of the top 100 global brands, it is apparent that it has lost brand value too.
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Audi Consumer Perception - China

Some consumer perceptions for Audi in China include: confidence in the Audi brand, positive tastes & preferences, reliability of the brand, durability of automobile parts, consideration of consumers' interests in technology and improved customer experience. However, some consumers feel Audi needs to raise its standards and quality in terms of oil paint. Moreover, some consumers believe Audi appeared discriminatory because of a video advert that was considered sexist.


Confidence in the Brand.

  • According to a 2018 report by Marketing to China, Chinese consumers trust the Audi brand because of the partnerships that the company has made with local companies and powerful state-owned enterprises.
  • The report observed that Chinese consumers easily believe and trust and have confidence in brands that have made partnerships and consider them to have met all government regulations.

Positive Tastes and Preference

  • A 2018 report from DW News indicates that Chinese consumers have positive tastes and preferences for Audi because of the durability of the car body, availability of body parts and spacious designs that come with Audi than other German models in China.
  • These qualities have been pivotal selling points for Audi automobiles in China.

Solid Foot Print And Reliability

  • Since 1984, the popularity of German automobiles have created a strong consumer perception on the reliability of Audis which is evident in the Chinese automobile market.
  • Additionally, among Chinese consumers, owning an Audi is perceived as being in a higher social status, a factor that has fueled more demand for Audis in the Chinese automobile market.

Improve Quality

  • According to a report by Aston Media, foreign brands such as Audi are easily embraced by Chinese consumers because they help to foster positive competition among other locally manufactured brands, thereby ensuring improved quality in automobiles industry.

Consumers' Interests On Technology

Improved Customer Experience.

General Complaints

  • According to a report by the China Consumer Association’s, Audi has been mentioned among the top ten brands that consumers have had complaints about with regard to some aspects of product quality and standards.
  • Chinese consumers feel that Audi has paint problem which is relatively high and needs to be addressed for safety concerns.
  • Additionally, a section of consumers felt that Audi appeared discriminatory in one of its marketing campaigns whereby the brand ran an advert that was deemed as sexist and demeaning to women.
  • The negative criticism as a result of the video ad had an impact on the sales of the brand which after apologizing publicly has been using more friendly marketing strategies to ensure that it remains relevant in the Chinese automobile market.

Research Strategy:

In order to determine the consumer perception of Audi in China, we commenced our research by scanning through go-to automobile industry resources such as automobiles magazines, news articles such as Reuters, China Daily, Marketing to China, and DW News among others. The rationale was to clearly to determine a detailed overview of the consumer perception in China. We were able to obtain valuable information from these reports that explained how consumers feel about the Audi brand. These reports also provided some Chinese customer reviews on how they perceive the brand. From the reports, we were able to ascertain that reliability of the brand, customer satisfaction, solid footprint and durability of Audi brand influenced Chinese consumers to positively appreciate the brand. Some reviews stated that there are consumers who felt more comfortable and more relaxed in Audi customer-tailored seats. Moreover, we also established some negative reviews from the consumers having general complaints about the brand. We searched further to determine any possible ratings for Audi in China, We looked for credible sites such as Auto rating sites such as JB Power, AudiMediaCenter, however, there were no public ratings offered by Chinese consumers. JB Power provided global ratings as opposed to ratings specific to the Chinese market.
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Brand Experience in China

Four automotive brands that have offered branded, experiential marketing initiatives in China are Ford, Audi, BMW, and Maserati.


1. Ford

  • In 2017, Ford and Alibaba entered into a partnership to create a vending machine for cars in Guangzhou, China, called the Super Test-Drive Center.
  • The vending machine is actually an open-air tower rising several stories tall, featuring a cat theme (ears and eyes on the top of the tower).
  • The tower even lights up at night. No one actually works there though because it's fully automated in conjunction with the Alibaba company app called Tmall.
  • The Super Test-Drive Center provides a branded experience by allowing people to select cars they like through the app, make an electronic deposit for such, choose a time to pickup the car, and take a selfie of themselves prior to pickup so that they are recognized by the vending machine at the time of pickup. For people who have credit scores at or above 700, there's no charge for the test drives.
  • The Super Test-Drive Center was very well-covered in the media, as numerous, reputable media outlets covered it both before and after its grand opening.
  • We could not find any information how it was received (the media coverage was predominantly about its grand opening and thus customer reception wasn't yet available) nor about any success metrics.
  • Branded marketing experience are central to Ford's marketing strategy, as is explained in this press release from last year about how the company is revamping its marketing approach.

2. Audi

  • Audi implemented a branded, experiential marketing initiative in China by holding an event called "Ski With Legend."
  • That "event was the first-ever skiing competition organized by an automobile brand in China."
  • This link is to a video about the event.
  • The Ski With Legend event provided a branded marketing experience by first featuring skiing competitions and performances during the day. Then, "[a]t night, amazing ski performances were combined with magnificent 'car dances' in the snow; the dreamlike scenery combining performers, cars and snow in a visual feast for the audience of Audi VIPs, media and Audi owners."
  • The event was very well-covered in the media, as it was stated that the event received "[w]ide coverage."
  • The event was received very well by the target audience, as it was stated that "the event was a hit with the public, both nationally and internationally."
  • We didn't find information about success metrics outside the description of how well the event was received by the target audience, as was previously stated.
  • Branded, experiential marketing appears to be relatively new to Audi's marketing strategy, as we could not find much substantive, prior information about the company doing so outside of this example.

3. BMW Experience Shanghai

  • BMW implemented a branded marketing experience in China by debuting a customer-experience center called BMW Experience Shanghai, which spans "about 45,000 square meters." BMW Experience Shanghai has "a 2,000-sq[uare]-m[eter] in-house brand center and a 24,000-sq[uare-]m[eter] driving center."
  • At the experience center, consumers can learn about the BMW brand, test out new automotive technologies, take test drives, "and even join . . . [BMW's] dynamic M Motorsport." BMW also holds other marketing events at the center.
  • The opening of the BMW Experience Shanghai was well covered in the media, as many media outlets published articles about it.
  • We could not find any information about how well the center's opening was received nor success metrics about it.
  • Branded experiential marketing appears to be central to BMW's marketing strategy, as the company appointed a marketing agency to help with its experiential campaigns.

4. Maserati

  • Maserati implemented a branded marketing experience in China by creating smart stores in partnership with Tmall, which is the online marketplace of Alibaba Group. In so doing, Maserati was "the first automaker to . . . [utilize] Alibaba’s smart-retail technologies."
  • Maserati has two smart stores in China, which are located in Beijing and Shanghai.
  • The CEO of Maserati China said the following about the smart stores: "Everything is driven by having the customer at the center, making sure we can deliver something he or she cannot experience anywhere else."
  • The opening of the smart stores appears to have not been widely covered in the media, as we found few mentions of such in our press search.
  • We could not find any information about success metrics regarding these smart stores.
  • Branded experiential marketing appears to be central to Maserati's marketing strategy, as the company has done so in other ways before, such as with this experiential event held in the Hamptons.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

While we were able to find four automotive brands providing branded experiential marketing in China, information about how well they were received by the target audience and/or success metrics wasn't available (with the exception of Audi). We included these automotive initiatives even though information about those data points wasn't always available because we were able to find examples specific to automotive brands, which we know was the prioritized industry.

With regard to the two data points we weren't able to find for the brands not named Audi, we looked for that information using three different strategies. First, we conducted wide-ranging press searches for articles about the branded experiential marketing examples. Though information about those marketing initiatives was available in articles, those two specific data points weren't discussed in any of the articles we found, as applicable. Second, we checked each brand's website to see if they might have included that information there instead of in articles. However, after conducting those searches on the brands' website, that strategy didn't yield any relevant results. As a third strategy, we looked for reviews (such as Google Reviews) about these experiential initiatives, to see if we could ascertain information about how well the centers/initiatives were received, but we couldn't find any such information. Accordingly, the information we provided above includes all the relevant information that we found about these brands and the branded, experiential marketing initiatives they have implemented in China.

From Part 02
  • "For every second German (55 percent), the authenticity of a brand plays a role in the purchase decision.And in Germany, seven domestic brands are among the top 10 authentic brands - more than in any other country. These are two results of the "Authentic Brands Index 2017" by Cohn & Wolfe ."
  • "However, apart from BMW, carmakers have clearly lost their authenticity. So Daimler fell from 8th place to 15 in Germany; Audi moved from 3rd to 22nd place. In 2016, Mercedes-Benz was still in 7th place, this year in 35th place. Porsche dropped from 28th to 41th position."
  • "The Authentic Brands Index raises the drivers of consumer perception of authentic brands. Compared to previous years, three dimensions of individual experience gain significantly in importance: Reliability in the form of quality and the keeping of promises, respect, which is reflected in dealing with customers and the protection of their data, as well as the direct experience, expressed as sincere communication and Integrity."
  • "The European consumer is cynical: 8 percent of Germans perceive brands as "open and honest" (Sweden: 5 percent, France: 7 percent, Italy: 9 percent)"
  • "Respect is the most important: of the three main drivers of the brand's authenticity - reliability, respect, and a direct experience - 2017 has made respect the most important."
From Part 03
  • "Foreign companies seeking to enter Chinese market, there is a high chance that a foreign brand needs to have a joint venture with a local company. In order to be successful among Chinese consumer, it is highly advised to partner with powerful state owned enterprise. A good example is, Volkswagen, the brand has a joint venture with the Shanghai SAIC—the Shanghai Automobile Industrial Corporation. Even today, after Volkswagen fuel scandal, Chinese consumer still trust the brand."
  • "The Chinese love German cars and one of the main reasons is that Volkswagen started early in China, in 1984, with the VW Santana, which was very popular." "
  • "He believes that cars in the Volkswagen Group (for example, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen), have become the most reliable German models, and he singles out Audi for particular praise, saying they identified and successfully capitalized on problems their rivals BMW and Mercedes were having."
  • "She says one pivotal selling point for German cars in China is the perceived strength of the car body and parts, and also that they are more spacious than the other available models."
  • "In terms of the individual brands, she says that BMW remains a very popular luxury brand and status symbol for the wealthy, while Audi is generally seen as an elegant car most commonly used by senior state and government officials"
  • "There’s another notable perspective on how Chinese consumers see ‘foreign brands’. Chinese consumers see the presence of Foreign Brands as a positive competitive force (even if they don’t buy them) because they drive improvements in Chinese Brands Many Chinese consumers support for the presence of foreign brands, but not necessarily because they offer better status or (especially not) value, but because their competitive ‘quality’ presence has actually pushed local brands into improving."
  • "Chinese consumers are exhibiting a notably greater willingness to embrace new vehicle features such as autonomous driving, connectivity and electrification than their counterparts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, according to the latest survey released by global consultancy Deloitte."
  • "And Chinese consumers are not hesitant about paying for such a service, with more than 90 percent expressing their willingness to pay a premium for a vehicle that can communicate with other vehicles and road infrastructure to improve safety."
  • "Vehicle technology has dominated the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show Asia in Shanghai, where more than 60 global automotive brands are in attendance including Audi, Honda and Hyundai, constituting the event's largest-ever vehicle technology footprint, according to Wu Jianghong, general manager of Shanghai Intex Exhibition Co Ltd, a key organizer of the event."
  • "Audi has spun out a new company called Holoride that aims to bring a virtual reality experience to the backseat of every car. Part of the magic is that what users view through their VR headsets is matched with the movement of the vehicle."
  • "The rear space of AUDI A6L is really large and comfortable"
  • "The A6L 's rare space feels really spacious. I'm 1.8M tall"
  • "Listening closely to the needs and wants of the local target group, the brand became the #1 choice among Chinese executives and gained a competitive advantage of several years. "
  • "From the specific problems of complaints, the complaints of TOP 10 brand mainly focus on deposit, engine, tire, suspected fraud and car paint, and the main problems of each brand are slightly different. Among them, Dongfeng Honda oil problem is more prominent, Mercedes-Benz, FAW Volkswagen, Chang’an Ford, Audi paint problem is relatively high."
  • "This is really low taste. Isn’t this like what people do when trading cattle?” said one under the handle Yaoxiaozi on microblog Weibo."
  • "Thousands of Chinese consumers went online to mock the advert, saying it was sexist and demeaning to women. On Tencent Holdings’ (0700.HK) popular chat app WeChat nearly half a million people mentioned “Audi second hand car” on Tuesday."