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China's 'relevant' brands tap the zeitgeist

News, 25 July 2017
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SHANGHAI: Brands looking to prosper in China need to tap into the nation’s cultural trends and position themselves in a way that resonates with key demographic groups a new study suggests.

The 2017 Brand Relevance Report, from brand consulting agency RTG Consulting Group, covered nine industries and was based on a survey of 5,000 consumers in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, as well as qualitative interviews with 45 China industry experts and select consumers.

“To succeed, brands need to move at the speed of modern China's cultures and subcultures," said Marc-Oliver Arnold, Chief Strategy Officer at RTG Consulting Group.

"Brands are expanding and targeting up-and-coming niche trend markets, capitalising on emerging trends to quickly head that sector.”

He suggested that brands like adidas, WeChat and Huawei were “key examples of the effectiveness of this strategy”.

In the fashion sector, adidas and Nike took the top spot for Generations Z and Y respectively.

But adidas performed especially well among brands of all categories and respondents of all generations, RTG noted, earning top marks in key metrics like passion, leadership and consistency.

It has accomplished this, it said, by setting up large-scale distribution in lower-tier cities while at the same time pursuing inventive marketing strategies that endear it to different subcultures, especially amongst Gen Z consumers.

WeChat dominated the mobile app sector, in which only one international brand, Amazon, appeared in the top 20. And Huawei topped the ranking in the electronics & tech sector, with Apple falling to sixth.

Angelito Tan Jr., CEO of RTG Consulting Group, observed a trend toward 'Easternisation' with the increasing resonance of many Chinese brands across several industries.

“The rising influence and relevance these brands have on Chinese consumers cannot be overlooked,” he said, “This may have a significant impact on the overall brand market landscape in the near future."

The only sector where local brands did not experience significant growth was in luxury, where none of the top 20 most relevant brands were Chinese. Chanel ranked highest for China's Generations X and Y, and second for Generation Z, who ranked Dior as their favourite.

Data sourced from RTG Consulting Group; additional content by WARC staff

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