Japan, France and Spain are emerging “hubs of growth” for Chinese brands seeking to expand overseas, although overall awareness of Chinese brands in international markets has declined over the past three years, a new report has found.

According to BrandZ, the brand equity specialist firm created by Kantar and WPP, Japanese, French and Spanish consumers have increasingly positive attitudes towards Chinese brands, whose “Brand Power” is up 15% year-on-year, compared with 5% growth last year.

Yet, with competition fierce globally, awareness of Chinese brands among consumers aged 18 to 34 in seven key overseas markets declined 26% from 19.9% in 2016 to 14.8% in 2018. Awareness of Chinese brands among consumers aged 35 and older declined at the slower rate of 6% over the same period.

“Chinese brands must think beyond just the launch of their products to a more holistic brand building approach,” said David Roth, WPP’s global practice lead.

“Creating an emotional and differentiated understanding for their brands will be the real determinate of long-term success outside of China,” he added.

BrandZ’s Top 50 Chinese Global Brand Builders 2019 report ranks China’s top companies based on the strength of their brand in seven key markets with future export potential – the US, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Australia and Japan.

The study also tests Chinese brands, ranging across 12 categories, against three elements to rank their “Brand Power”, including the extent to which they are viewed as being meaningful, different and salient, or coming to mind easily when consumers are about to buy.

By these measures, BrandZ ranks tech firm Huawei as the top Chinese brand despite well-publicised security concerns in the US and other leading markets about the company’s trustworthiness.

Consumer electronics firms account for at least a third (34%) of the top 50, with the top 10 including Lenovo, Xiaomi, OnePlus and Anker, while e-commerce giant Alibaba is ranked third and ByteDance, the creator of the popular Tik Tok app, comes in fifth.

According to BrandZ, online fashion saw the largest rise in Brand Power since last year’s report, while home appliances grew by 39%, followed by e-commerce (30%), smart devices (20%), banks/payment networks (17%) consumer electronics (17%) and mobile gaming (11%).

Commenting on the findings, Doreen Wang, head of BranZ at Kantar, said: “It is even more important than ever for Chinese brands to grow their Brand Power overseas.

“They are already perceived as innovative and cutting-edge by young consumers, but they must be mindful of being a business operating within an international market and adapt their communications strategy to resonate locally.”

Sourced from Kantar, WPP, BrandZ; additional content by WARC staff