Chinese construction equipment makers believe their biggest barrier to entering the U.S. market is branding. With better name recognition, these manufacturers believe they would finally conquer the west.
This may be true going by reports across the construction equipment industry. Asked whether they recognized various Chinese brands, most American distributors and sellers of construction equipment said they have never heard about the brands.
“I’ve never heard of them,” said Barry Hubscher, a distributor in Chicago when asked if he knew any of Sany Heavy Industries Co, Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Co, or Xuzhou Construction Machinery group Co (XCMG).
Incredibly, those three rank among the top 10 global heavy equipment manufacturers and are currently the top three Chinese manufacturers with combined annual sales of over $20 billion.
Hubscher, like many other Americans, prefer American brands. If the money is there, they won’t even compare American brands to foreign brands.
“Cost and dependability are my two biggest concerns,” he says. “Sometimes I also consider financing and services and that’s when I look at other brands. But if the margins are tight, I just pick American. It’s that simple.”
Such reports have left Chinese manufacturers scratching their heads as they try to find solutions for the situation.
And now, Sany’s American Marketing Director Tim Rogers, says he knows exactly what they needs to do.
For a long time, the Chinese have depended on traditional marketing channels. They occasionally use Facebook, but often forget about other platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Rogers who was brought in by Sany in 2016 to ramp up the company’s social media marketing efforts in the country believes breaking that trend is the key to gaining more recognition in the American market.
“We have to utilize new media to penetrate the market,” he says pointing to YouTube as one of the channels the company will be targeting in the future. “Americans use social media more than any other communications channel.”
One foreign manufacturer that has successfully cemented its place in the highly competitive American market, thanks largely to relentless social media marketing, is Japanese equipment maker Komatsu.
Komatsu’s global appeal is mainly attributed to the impact of Raleigh Floyd who came in as an internet marketing director and completely revamped the company’s social media strategy.
“If we want to be successful, we must follow the Komatsu blueprint,” says Rogers. “We must make social media a priority.”