Oliver Wright writes:
BrandZ has recently released its flagship reports on the value of global brands, and took the moment to launch a companion report on the Top 50 most valuable Chinese brands. Given China’s buoyant economy, the results are bound to be of interest to companies looking to expand into new markets.
A glance at the top 10 brands is revealing. China Mobile is in top spot, with large banks taking many of the remaining places, rounded out by Tencent (also known as QQ; an instant messenger and mobile provider) and local language search engine Baidu – Google doesn’t figure in the top 50. Although China has the reputation, at least in the West, of being a large exporter, supplier of components, and the manufacturer of so much of our ‘stuff’, the top 10 are almost exclusively service providers with a strong national base. Of course, this is unsurprising, given the necessity of these services in a rapidly expanding economy.
Looking further down the list, there are a couple of internationally recognisable brands. Most will have heard of Tsingtao beer (35), one of a number of alcohol brands in there, but how many could claim to recognise ChangYu (22), an premium wine brand? Haier (29) and Lenovo (16) have both made an impact in the US, with the former increasing its (albeit small) international business by fostering a reputation for reliable but affordable appliances. But Midea (25) is another appliance brand with a larger brand value than Haier, built on a different strategy: its growth has largely come from focusing on China’s many tier 2 and 3 cities, where the presence of other brands is limited.
Retailers and apparel producers also feature further down the list. But like other Chinese brands seeking to establish themselves internationally, value remains the overarching brand association outside of China. Within China, of course, consumers are becoming more brand conscious; 53% shopped with a brand shortlist in 2010, compared to 41% in 2006.
However, as Kunal Sinha of Ogilvy notes, Chinese brands with an international presence are a marker of quality for consumers back home. Tom Doctoroff also makes the important point that many of these brands have yet to test their mettle in their home markets against international brands, as relatively few have had much impact yet. There’s still a lot to play for.