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Chinese brands lack long-term view

News, 15 December 2014

BEIJING: Many Chinese brands are ignoring the importance of purpose-based marketing, according to a leading industry figure who says they are too focused on achieving quick returns when they venture overseas.

Doreen Wang, global head of BrandZ, the Millward Brown-owned brand equity database, told China Daily that while many Chinese firms wanted to expand into overseas markets and become leading global enterprises, "few realise the significance of bringing more purpose-based societal benefits to their consumers".

Achieving brand dominance on the global stage requires them to build their brands, she advised, and that means more than just raising awareness by, for example, putting an ad in New York's Times Square.

Marketers need to consider how they can "make the brand meaningful to its users, spiritually and mentally, so that consumers recognize your products and are willing to buy".

But Chinese brands face an uphill struggle in the US, where BrandZ research shows that only 6% of consumers can name a Chinese brand.

In part that may be because relatively few have made the effort to crack that market, as the huge domestic market is quite big enough for most to deal with.

Some have opted to instead explore other developing markets, such as Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. "The US and some European countries are markets of commanding heights for Chinese firms," said Wang. "Few Chinese brands consider the US as the strategic market, and that's part of the reason for the poor recognition of Chinese brands in the country."

A few, including computer technology business Lenovo and home appliance manufacturer Haier, do see the US as a potentially lucrative market, but even these "financial powerhouses", Wang noted, "are still unable to make their brand well known and accepted".

She held up Alibaba as an example for Chinese firms: by affirming its entrepreneurial purpose, helping small and medium enterprises realise their dreams, it had turned itself into a successful global brand.

"Many Chinese firms do have the great products and potential to ascend to the top of the global markets, but many just don't know how to compete and how to penetrate in an efficient way," Wang said. "It takes time, but the outlook is still optimistic."

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff