BEIJING: Banking and technology firms are among the most significant brand owners in China, but retailing, food and beverage players are rising quickly through the ranks, according to Millward Brown.

The research firm has unveiled the first BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Chinese Brands study, with China Mobile - a mobile phone carrier boasting more than 500 million subscribers - in first place.

China's Big Four banks - Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, the China Construction Bank and insurer China Life - round out the top five.

Collectively, the top 50 brands highlighted in the study represent a total value of $280 billion (€208bn; £177bn) - equivalent to slightly more than 5% of the Chinese economy as a whole.

The online entertainment platform Tencent stands at number eight in the table, closely followed by Baidu, the internet search engine.

Both brands, the report said, "have developed great products and great product experiences".

Other top-30 brands outside the banking and finance sectors include domestic car manufacturer BYD (19), best known for electric cars plus green technology, and Haier (29), an innovative white goods company.

Commenting on the report, Adrian Gonzales, head of Millward Brown Greater China, said: "Chinese companies in the BrandZ Top 50 have demonstrated their ability to build strong domestic brands, with a number of them earning a deep sense of loyalty and engagement among Chinese consumers."

He added: "China's economy is now at a tipping point – consumers have an increasing number of brands to choose from, and are therefore becoming more sophisticated in their choices ... brand-building is a powerful way to develop and maintain a competitive edge."

While large, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominate the Top 50 brand rankings, some of them, such as China Mobile, have "taken advantage of favourable market conditions to adopt sophisticated brand strategies and market segmentation approaches," according to the report's authors.

In future studies, Millward Brown hopes to follow these more marketing-focused SOEs and assess how well they perform against the growing competition.

If the giant enterprises are doing disproportionately well in China, the study suggests that smaller packaged goods and beverage brands are also holding their own and are using brand-building as a means of differentation.

Millward Brown singles out wine and beer brands Changyu (22), Tsingtao (35) and Great Wall (50) for special mention on this point.

Data sourced from Millward Brown; additional content by Warc staff