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Chinese brand awareness declining globally despite emerging market growth

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By Danielle Long | Acting APAC Editor

April 4, 2019 | 4 min read

Awareness of Chinese brands in international markets has declined over the past three years, despite growth in the overall strength of Chinese brands internationally, according to a new report.

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The findings from BrandZ’s Top 50 Chinese Global Brand Builders 2019 report, which ranks Chinese brands on the strength or ‘Brand Power’ of their brand in overseas markets, revealed a 26% decline in awareness of Chinese brands among global millennial consumers (aged 18-34) over the past three years.

The decline, which Doreen Wang, global head of BrandZ at Kantar, attributes to unprecedented levels of competition in the global market, has not impacted the performance of major Chinese brands such as Huawei, Lenovo or ByteDance, which owns the hugely popular Douyin (TikTok) app.

“Globally the economy is slowing down but businesses who invest in their brand in the bad times reap the benefits. The global market is extremely competitive but so is China. There are amazing opportunities for those that can get the formula right to win.

“Traditionally many Chinese brands have done well talking about their products but not telling their brand story. Chinese brands need to sell the brand rather than the product in order to create ongoing demand,” said Wang.

The report revealed Huawei secured the top spot, despite the brand’s recent flood of negative publicity around its 5G technology. It was followed by Lenovo, Alibaba, Xiaomi and ByteDance, with the latter ranking fifth in its first inclusion in the report. Hisense, Haier, Air China, One Plus and Anker rounded out the top ten.

The report also highlights the emergence of new markets, or “hubs of growth”, for Chinese brands in Japan, France and Spain

“‘Made in China’ doesn’t mean what it used to,” said Wang. “It now stands for innovation, especially among young consumers.

“New markets are emerging as hubs of growth for Chinese brands, with Japan, France and Spain leading the way. We’ve also seen growing opportunities in emerging markets for different industries. For example, the automobile market in Saudi Arabia, E-commerce in India and the smartphone market in Indonesia, are thriving in recent years without any dominating brands, bringing great potential for Chinese brands.”

“Chinese brands going global must be much clearer about what makes them different – and build up brand recognition – if they are to compete successfully against strong global brands,” said Wang.

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