Alipay has been crowned China’s most relevant brand in an annual ranking which saw seven of the top 10 spots occupied by local Chinese brands.
The 2018 China Brand Relevance Index (BRI) survey, conducted by marketing consultancy Prophet to determine the brands' consumers rank as relevant, found Chinese consumers increasingly value home-grown Chinese brands, over big-name global brands.
Alibaba’s affiliate financial product Alipay topped the list, ahead of Android, WeChat, Huawei and Microsoft. Alibaba’s Taobao was in sixth place ahead of Intel, Meituan, QQ and Tmall.
The trend continued throughout the top 25 brands with Baidu’s Qunar.com in 12th place, followed by Netease (13), Xiaomi (15), Vivo (17), China Mobile (20) Haier (21) and Union Pay (23).
Just ten of the top 25 brands were western companies and predominantly tech brands including Apple (11), Airbnb (19), Phillips (24) and Dell (25), as well as Adidas (14), W Hotels (18) and Estee Lauder (22).
The 2018 survey, which included views from over 13,000 Chinese consumers on 249 brands across 30 industries, revealed Chinese consumers have become more strategic in their purchase, according to Leon Zhang, partner at Prophet and co-author of the China Brand Relevance Index.
“Undoubtedly, relevance with consumers is fundamental in building a strong brand. This year, we are glad to see more home-grown brands making striking progress in being pervasively innovative while remaining ruthlessly pragmatic.
“However, global brands still play a leading role in ‘distinctive inspiration’ and ‘customer obsession’. At the end of day, it is the in-depth understanding of customers that helps decide the focus of brand-building, whether the brand strives to take its advantages to the next level or offset its weaknesses.”
The survey also revealed that Chinese consumers value brands that can provide meaningful, insight-driven innovations and enhance and enrich their daily lives. Brands such as Meituan and Hema, which provide online to offline experiences are highly regarded by consumers.
Consumers are also drawn to brands that provide Chinese-friendly or China-focused products and services, particularly when travelling abroad.
Tom Doctoroff, chief cultural officer at Prophet, said: “Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, actively seeking products and services that provide substance, innovative experience and belongingness. Over the years, we have seen a growing number of brands – both domestic and international – striving to tap into the local market and this trend will be here to stay."