After the Weipai CEO position was vacant for more than half a month, Tank Brand CEO Liu Yanzhao once again served as Weipai CEO.
On November 3, Great Wall CGO (Chief Growth Officer) Li Ruifeng announced Great Wall’s personnel changes on his Weibo. The original text is as follows:
In this news of personnel appointments, the most concerned thing is that Wei Pai, who is responsible for the high-end mission of Great Wall, has changed coaches again.
At the beginning of this year, Great Wall hired Chen Siying, who had worked for Geely and Lynk & Co for many years, and appointed her as the CEO of Weipai. But before Wei’s new model “Gaoshan” was launched, Chen Siying left early.
On October 13, Chen Siying posted a message on Weibo in response to his resignation. Regarding his resignation, he vaguely stated that it was due to “some circumstances at home.” In addition, he also emphasized that “8 months after joining the company, I was fortunate to participate in the launch of Blue Mountain, new Mocha and Alpine models.”
Leifeng.com learned that although Chen Siying is nominally the CEO of Weipai, there will be multiple forces involved in decision-making. The positioning of Wei’s new models is personally controlled by Wei Jianjun, while Li Ruifeng also has certain decision-making power on the marketing side.
After Chen Siying left, Liu Yanzhao took over the position of CEO of Wei Pai. Wei Pai, who was responsible for the high-end mission of the group, ushered in a new helmsman.
Wei Jianjun personally ended up: Xuexue wanted to build an SUV, but failed to make a fool of himself
Since its establishment seven years ago, Wei Pai’s biggest dilemma is that it does not have a hit model.
At the 2016 Guangzhou Auto Show, the “WEY” brand was officially unveiled, with the Chinese name “Weipai”. The brand is positioned as a high-end luxury SUV. To be more precise, WEY wants to be a high-end luxury car brand in the fuel era.
In 2017, WEY launched two products, VV7 and VV5. VV7 is positioned as a medium-sized SUV and V5 is a compact SUV. The prices of the two models range from 160,000 to 190,000.
During the same period, Great Wall’s best-selling product – Haval H6, which opened up the blue ocean of China’s SUV market, has a price range of 89,000-115,000. In comparison, VV5 and VV7 are about 70% more expensive than the guide price of Haval H6.
How to define “high-end luxury”? When it comes to WEY, consumers’ most intuitive experience is that it is more “expensive”.
For a period of time, the sales of VV5 and VV7 increased rapidly and the momentum was very good. However, within less than two years after its launch, WEY’s overall sales began to plummet due to repeated consumer complaints about product quality issues.
In 2021, WEY will usher in the most exciting changes.
First of all, the brand name was changed from “WEY” to “Wei Brand”. Wei Jianjun put his own reputation on the line to show Great Wall’s determination to adhere to the high-end route and make the brand better.
Immediately afterwards, Wei Pai gave up the VV series of models and launched three new models named after coffee: Latte, Macchiato, and Mocha, and these three new models were all SUVs.
It is worth mentioning that, except for the Mocha, which is a fuel vehicle, both the Latte and Macchiato are equipped with Great Wall’s lemon hybrid DHT technology.
The original idea of Great Wall executives was to install lemon hybrid DHT technology on high-end models first, and then attack BYD’s “Dynasty Series” products that use “D-mi” hybrid technology head-on.
But consumers did not pay for this technology – the WEY brand’s annual sales in 2020 were 78,500 vehicles, 52,200 vehicles in 2021, and 36,400 vehicles in 2022.
Sales have been declining year by year, and Wei’s annual sales are not even equivalent to Haval’s monthly sales. Great Wall, which is good at building SUVs, failed to produce high-end SUVs and failed to copy Haval’s success to Weipai.
Starting in 2022, Wei Jianjun took action again and personally took charge of the product definition of Wei brand, and the team began to intensively plan new products.
At the same time, Wei Pai noticed the strong performance of Ideal in the market. Ideal has well combined the “medium and large luxury SUV” and “family” scenes, successfully targeting the market of more than 300,000 yuan.
This year, Wei Brand has launched a total of 3 new models: Blue Mountain DHT-PHEV (hereinafter referred to as “Blue Mountain”), New Mocha and Alpine.
Among them, “Lanshan” is positioned as a six-seat electric SUV, and New Mocha is positioned as a five-seat flagship SUV. The “Gaoshan”, which has just been launched recently, is positioned as a high-end luxury MPV and is also Wei Brand’s first MPV.
Leifeng.com learned that Wei Brand’s internal strategy is: Blue Mountain and New Mocha should be based on the ideal L series model, and the Blue Mountain model should be based on the ideal L8 model.
Currently, there are two versions of Blue Mountain on sale, the two-wheel drive long-range version starts at 273,800 yuan, and the four-wheel drive super long-range version starts at 308,800 yuan.
The Ideal L8 is positioned as a medium-to-large six-seat SUV, with a price range of 339,800 yuan to 399,800 yuan.
Judging from sales data alone, Blue Mountain’s performance in the past few months has been somewhat “high and low.” After its official launch in April this year, Blue Mountain’s monthly sales have remained stable at around 5,000 vehicles for four consecutive months. But in September, sales suddenly halved to 2,026 vehicles.
It’s important to note that sales volume does not equate to actual deliveries.
A person who has been following the Wei brand for a long time told Leifeng.com: “When the monthly sales of the Wei brand Blue Mountain were 4,000 to 5,000, dealers suppressed a lot of goods. Great Wall wanted to create a wave of noise, because Blue Mountain was built internally by Great Wall A better car.”
Investors are also concerned about changes in Blue Mountain’s sales. During the third quarter earnings conference call, an analyst asked: “Internal expectations for Blue Mountain were relatively high at the beginning. What are the problems that are causing the sales to decline now?”
The Great Wall’s answer is:
“When Blue Mountain was launched, it attracted consumers’ attention based on its strong product power. In August and September this year, Blue Mountain’s sales began to fluctuate and decline, which is normal. We look at our own resources and market layout calmly, and the WEY brand In this market segment, the brand potential is weak. Blue Mountain is not just a single product, but also undertakes the mission of revitalizing the WEY brand.”
In addition, Great Wall also revealed that Blue Mountain will strengthen the label of new energy intelligence in the first half of next year.
However, what Wei Pai now has to solve is not only the declining sales of its main model “Blue Mountain”, but also the voice of users defending their rights.
Recently, many “Blue Mountain” car owners complained to Wei Brand’s official customer service about Blue Mountain’s price reduction, violating the “guaranteed price” agreement at the time of listing, and stabbing old car owners in the back. The reason is that since September, dealers in many places across the country have offered cash rebates, insurance and other benefits for “Blue Mountain” models. These users believe that Wei Brand is cutting prices in disguise, and there have been hundreds of complaints online about the car’s quality.
When “Blue Mountain” was launched, Wei Pai promised that “the official price will be guaranteed until December 31, 2023. If the official price drops during this period, the price difference will be compensated.” However, some users said that the complaints were fruitless, and Weipai’s reply was that “the official suggested retail price will be lowered or the cash reduction and exemption provided for car purchases will be adjusted, and the manufacturer will refund the difference between the new and old recommended retail prices.”
Currently, Wei brand’s models on sale are mainly sold through the dealer system, in addition to being sold at some direct stores owned by Great Wall. Perhaps, this time the dealer’s “disguised price reduction” is due to Wei Pai’s failure in the management of its sales system.
In the Weibo comment area of Liu Yanzhao, who is also the CEO of Weipai, a Blueshan user directly left a message: “Please first solve the problem of Blueshan overtly guaranteeing prices and covertly reducing prices.” From this point of view, when taking office this time, Liu Yanzhao may have to solve the issue of user rights first.
Although Lanshan does not yet have the ability to compete with the Ideal L8, it is the current sales pillar of Wei Pai, accounting for more than 90% of the overall sales. Losing the reputation of “Blue Mountain”, Wei Pai may have no cards to play in a short time.
The brand with the most frequent coaching changes: 7 coaching changes in 7 years, with the shortest term being less than half a year
There are two biggest controversies about Wei Pai. Apart from brand positioning, the other is the frequent coaching changes.
There have been seven leaders in seven years, with some serving less than half a year. Judging from the frequent changes in senior management, Wei Jianjun seems to attribute Wei Pai’s unsatisfactory development to management issues.
The first CEO of the WEY brand is Yan Si. Yan Si has worked at Audi for 30 years and has served as a senior executive in many departments such as the production department, sales department, and international sales department.
In September 2018, Liu Yan took over from Yan Si and became the CEO of the WEY brand, overseeing the brand’s marketing, sales, channels and after-sales services.
During this period, Liu Yan was considered one of the professional managers who knew the most about luxury brands in China. She has been with FAW Audi for decades and has completely experienced FAW Audi’s marketing system in China from scratch. In 2012, she left FAW Audi to join Volvo, responsible for sales and marketing, and was promoted to chief operating officer of Volvo two years later.
Zooming in on the entire Great Wall Group level, in 2018, Great Wall, including Liu Yan, successively introduced a group of professional managers who worked for high-end luxury brands, such as Wen Fei, who worked for Dongfeng Nissan and Volvo, and Volvo Asia Pacific District Vice President Ning Shuyong and others.
The management refresh is related to the reform of Great Wall’s brand organizational structure. It was in 2018 that Great Wall established four major King Kong brands-Haval, WEY, Euler and Great Wall Pickup.
However, most of these professional managers’ tenure at Great Wall is less than 2 years.
After Liu Yan left, most of the people in charge of the WEY brand were promoted from within Great Wall, such as Li Ruifeng, Hu Shujie, and Liu Yanzhao. Li Ruifeng, in particular, has been in and out of Wei Pai twice.
Whether it is Hu Shujie, who was once in charge of the Great Wall factory and was regarded as the “number three person”, or Li Ruifeng, who has grown into CGO in the past two years, they have not been able to reinvent the WEY brand/Wei brand during their term of office.
In fact, the WEY brand has also had its shining moments. In 2020, WEY launched the off-road SUV Tank 300, with sales of this model reaching 6,018 units in the first month of its launch.
This is the first time that the WEY brand has changed its product matrix and expanded into new categories. The original V series models focus on urban SUVs, while the Tank series aims to attack the smart luxury off-road SUV market segment.
But before the WEY brand’s reputation has been established, at the end of 2020, Great Wall announced that it would separate “Tank” from the WEY brand and turn “Tank” into an independent sub-brand. At the same time, Liu Yanzhao, who originally served as CTO of the WEY brand, was appointed CEO of the tank brand.
Because Wei Jianjun is brewing a major organizational change. As early as 2018, Great Wall spent a large amount of money every year to hire leading international consulting companies to conduct organizational and business diagnosis.
In early December 2020, Great Wall began to implement “small organizations”, that is, “one vehicle, one brand, one company”, dividing the team responsible for one model into a combat unit, allowing this group of people on the front line to make decisions on their own, and the middle office of the group and backend to serve as back-up.
To this end, Great Wall has re-established six major brands: Haval, WEY, Tank, Euler, Salon and Great Wall Cannon. Among them, Tank and Salon are two new sub-brands.
The biggest advantage of branding and branding a vehicle model is that it makes it easier for each brand to manage itself. In the parlance of the Internet, it is “organizational flattening” to prevent the decision-making chain from being too long and causing the organization to lose agility.
Obviously, the biggest beneficiary of this brand organizational structure change is not the WEY brand. Switching tracks, switching product lines (abandoning VV series models and launching coffee series), and changing managers, Wei Brand has spent the most turbulent year, but sales have declined. No improvement.
In the opinion of a marketing manager of a certain OEM: “Weipai may not have thought clearly about who the target users are, who the competing products are, and what its own features and advantages are.”
However, Wei Jianjun never gave up the dream of Great Wall going high-end. Two years later, Great Wall once again performed surgery on the organization, and Wei Pai once again entered a period of change.
If Great Wall carries out its first brand organizational structure change in 2020, it is Great Wall’s initiative to seek change. So the second “injury”, in the eyes of the Great Wall people, is a “strategic correction.”
Since 2021, the words “fatigue” and “sales decline” have frequently appeared in the market’s evaluation of Great Wall.
Especially in 2022, although Great Wall has achieved annual sales of more than one million for seven consecutive years, the growth rate has slowed down significantly. In 2022, Great Wall’s annual sales volume will be 1.0675 million vehicles, a decrease of 16.6% compared with the sales volume of 1.281 million vehicles in 2021.
What’s even more serious is that in 2022, only the tank brand’s sales will be growing, while the sales of other sub-brands Haval, Wei, Euler, and Great Wall Pickup have all declined to varying degrees.
In early December 2022, Great Wall integrated six sub-brands and formed a “5+4+1” management model:
“5”: 5 middle stations have been established based on brand, channel, user, data and sales services, namely user development center, channel research center, user operation sharing center, business model innovation center, and digital operation transformation center;
“4”: refers to four combat groups, including Weihe tank combat group, Euler and Sharon combat group, Haval and Pica combat group, and overseas market combat group;
“1”: The concept of a Great Wall emphasizes the use of a unified action plan to make one voice in the global market and achieve one systematic management.
From the perspective of brand organizational structure alone, “one car, one brand, one company” has become a “dual-brand operation” model.
Except for Haval and Great Wall Pickup, which maintain independent operations, Euler and Salon, Weipai and Tank all implement dual-brand operations. Great Wall’s explanation for this move is to “merge similar items.” Euler and Salon are both pure electric brands, while Wei and Tank are both high-end models.
As a result, from December 2022 to February 2023, Liu Yanzhao, who originally served as Tank CEO, began to concurrently serve as Wei Pai CEO. Besides Li Ruifeng, Liu Yanzhao can be regarded as the second person who is familiar with Wei Pai. Firstly, it’s because he once served as Wei Pai’s CTO, and secondly, it’s because of this short-term part-time experience.
How much impact will this “correction” have on Wei Pai?
The efficacy is mainly reflected at the product level. As mentioned earlier, Wei Jianjun personally took charge of product definition, and Wei Pai began to polish new models such as Blue Mountain and Alpine.
At the marketing level, at the shareholders’ meeting in June this year, a Great Wall executive said that while learning from the strengths of its friends, it also realized its ideals – “I saw the ‘King of Weibo’ ideal in social platform marketing.”
Li Xiang responded remotely——
A person close to Wei Pai told Leifeng.com: “People at Great Wall believe that from the outside world, the ideal product thinking is from 0 to 1. In fact, the ideal is to assign values from 1 to 10. Great Wall has a history of more than 30 years. I’ve seen a lot of the world.”
Just over 4 months have passed since this announcement, but Wei Pai has undergone a coaching change and once again returned to the “dual-brand operation” status with Tank at the beginning of the year.
Stability may be the state that Wei Pai should seek most right now.
leifeng.com(Public account: Leifeng.com)An article on the topic “The Beginning and End of Great Wall’s Intelligent Transformation” will be released soon. Welcome to add the author WeChat WLX_Charlene_0905 and editor Gru1993 to communicate.
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