SHANGHAI: Chinese businesses are placing growing importance on brands, a new study says, as they look to move away from a focus on price and address the challenges posed by a consumer society and overseas expansion.

The report, from the School of Management of Fudan University and SHBEC, a Shanghai-based brand research institute, reviewed corporate investment in branding, innovation, brand management, research and development, across some 3,000 companies. It found that they were attaching increasing significance to quality and innovation.

This was particularly true of those operating in the consumer products and high-tech sector, China Daily noted.

"Brand is one of the key factors that differentiates market leaders from others, and innovation is key to a brand," the report said.

"Market share, market size and significant sales revenue may keep a brand widely known for a while, but it is continuous innovation that keeps a brand in the market's sight in a fast-changing world," it added.

Earlier this year, the governing State Council approved a Chinese Brand Day, to be held on May 10 each year, as part of efforts to boost the quality of domestic brands – this year's theme was "Deepening the reform on supply and demand structures and entering into a new era of home brands".

According to the Fudan University study, 56 of the top 100 most powerful brands were manufacturing companies; based on their brands' contribution to business growth and reputation, the top five businesses were telecoms operator China Mobile, carmaker SAIC, gas producer PetroChina, phone and telecommunications services provider Huawei and liquor maker Kweichow Moutai.

The far-reaching nature of branding was stressed by Jiang Qingyun, chairman of the marketing department of Fudan University's School of Management.

"Chinese people used to treat branding as merely advertising," he said, "but it's actually a systematic project, including enterprise structure and research and development."

The value of brands is also increasingly understood in a global context – as it is easier for well-known brands to enter new markets.

"As more Chinese enterprises operate globally, I believe more Chinese brands will be widely known and more Chinese companies will understand the importance of having reputable brands," said Liu Pingjun, president of the China Council for Brand Development.

Data sourced from China Daily, Global Times; additional content by WARC staff