BEIJING: Creativity and personnel are what top marketers in China value most when assessing which advertising agency to choose, far ahead of considerations such as size or awards won, according to new research.

Marketing consultancy R3 met with more than 300 senior marketers covering 971 agency relationships as part of its China Agencyscope research program and found that creativity was what they looked for first in an agency, with 62% citing this aspect.

An agency's people were almost as important, with 56% of respondents highlighting this as one of their selection criteria.

Then came strategic planning (43%), experience (33%) and ensuring there were no business conflicts (28%).

Cost, which one might have thought to be a significant issue, was mentioned by just 17%. That put it well down the order alongside other less pressing factors such as the previous relationship with the agency (17%), the recommendations of head office (16%) and digital capabilities (13%).

Issues such as prestige (11%) and size (8%) were not regarded as significant factors.

A similar picture emerged when looking at media agencies, with negotiating skills (49.8%) replacing creativity as the most sought after quality, followed by media planning and buying (48.3%). A media agency's people ranked third (42.9%).

Performance (35%) and transparency (32.5%) were also important but once again cost (17%) came low on the list of criteria alongside head office recommendation (17%) and previous relationships (14%).

A long tail of other factors included size (12%), internationality (12%), SEO/SEM (12%), research (9%) and service range (7%).

R3 also asked respondents which other company they considered to be the most respected marketing team in China. The resulting list was dominated by international brands, led by Coca-Cola.

The leading Chinese name was JDB, a maker of non-alcoholic beverages which is sometimes referred to as China's equivalent of Coca-Cola. Nike, BMW and Wrigley completed the top five.

Data sourced from R3; additional content by Warc staff