The recently published 2012 BrandZ report on the Top 50 Most Valuable Chinese Brands found that the value of the top 50 Chinese brands has grown by 16 percent to US$325 billion, representing more than five percent of the Chinese economy. Combining both financial data and opinion gathered from interviews with over 35,000 Chinese consumers, the survey also indicated China’s shift from maker to innovator, the phenomenal rise of online and FMCG brands, and an increasingly brand savvy group of middle class consumers. The list includes China Mobile, the world’s largest telecommunications operator; the four major Chinese banks; and a number of consumer brands, such as Mengniu, Sunning and Lenovo. (Find out more by clicking here)
Although there remains considerable debate as to which of these brands, if any, can become established as global brands, many Western competitors are beginning to realise the long-term threat from their new Asian competitors. In the face of stagnant economic growth in Europe and the US, and the lingering Euro-zone crisis, it is the Asia-Pacific region where many organizations are looking to try and substitute declining revenues elsewhere. The increasing power of Chinese brands within the Asia-Pacific region, not to mention other rapidly developing regions such as Africa, raises several questions for Western businesses intent on growing market share in new international markets:
• How can Western brands compete effectively with strong Chinese brands in local Chinese markets?
• Should premium-, mid- or low-end brand positioning be adopted in developing markets such as China?
• How should Western brand propositions be adopted for the local Asian market?
• What measures should be taken to defend brand position and market share in home markets from Chinese competition?
• Which Chinese brands represent the most significant competitive threat?
• How can social media in China be exploited to build brand presence?
As Western corporations tackle these important issues, it is clear that the challenge of Chinese brands is only set to grow in the future. However, while this rise represents a challenge, many Western firms are also looking to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Chinese brands. As Chinese brands aspire to compete more effectively with their global competitors on the international stage, the demand for high quality suppliers, product components, and consultancy services has never been greater. While marketing to Chinese businesses brings its own set of particular challenges for the uninitiated, over the past few years Western firms have begun adapting to China’s unique environment and have made inroads selling to some of China’s largest firms. As Chinese brands continue on their relentless march forward, it will be those firms that are able to grasp the characteristics and requirements of Chinese organizations that are likely to see the greatest success in the long term.