LONDON/BEIJING: Many Chinese equate iconic American brands with US power and are looking forward to Chinese brands fulfilling a similar role in the future according to a new report.
The Power and Potential of The Chinese Dream, from WPP, was based on research conducted by Millward Brown, together with insights from WPP's BrandZ database and data from studies by the Futures Company, Y&R and FITCH.
Over two-thirds of Chinese said that having a Chinese brand accepted in overseas markets was a manifestation of China's increased global influence. As part of that development younger Chinese were keen to see the 'Made in China' stamp transformed into 'Created in China'.
And Chinese brands are growing, as the 2014 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands ranking showed: at 27% a year, the value of market-driven brands in the top 50 was increasing three times as fast as those of state-owned enterprises.
Despite this, over one third of Chinese (35%) said the US was the ideal country today, compared to just 26% who held China in the same esteem, but that was set to change. In ten years' time 42% of Chinese expected that China would be ideal with just 14% saying the same of the US.
WPP said that brands needed to become participants in enabling the Chinese Dream, not simply the beneficiaries of it. That meant that while making a profit brands should also give back, in the form of respect for the environment, fair labour conditions, product quality and safety.
The importance of these areas was emphasized in the report's list of Chinese consumers' worries. Environmental damage was top (cited by 85% of Chinese respondents, compared to 61% of US consumers and 55% of UK consumers), closely followed by food safety on 83% (48% US, 35% UK).
The Financial Times quoted a senior Chinese official saying recently that pollution was so bad it was "like a smoker who needs to quit smoking at once otherwise he will risk getting lung cancer".
"Those companies that understand the importance of the Chinese Dream and engage with it will be competitively advantaged," said David Roth, curator of the report and CEO of WPP's retail practice The Store.
"Finding a way to contribute to enhancing the Chinese Dream will be rewarded by their customers," he added.
Data sourced from WPP; additional content by Warc staff