We recently posted on how to sell your business online in China without losing your IP.  We highlighted that aligning branding strategies with IP protection strategies will reduce the risk of an inadvertent loss of rights.  Also, knowing the Chinese market, and having a China-specific branding strategy, will be vital to building success.

A recent article by the BBC builds on these points, and has revealed the top 20 brands in China.  The BBC has also managed to obtain ‘tips for success’ from 11 of the companies listed.

The article is based on a survey conducted by Millward Brown, a market research firm, which conducted 60,000 face-to-face and online interviews with consumers in 10 Chinese cities between 2011 and 2013.

With the emergence of China’s growing middle class, the article recognises that Chinese consumers are increasingly switching from local to international brands as they value quality and experience over price.

Key points from the article are as follows:

 

  • It takes time to build your brand, so it will be best to get in early to avoid an overly competitive marketplace.  This aligns with our previous comment on avoiding ‘misappropriation’ of rights by third parties in China.  We would add that taking steps to maintain strength in your brand by, for example, challenging fraudulent use and registration of trade marks in China, will be crucial for building recognition and goodwill in your brand.
  • The article points to ‘knowing your market’.  We emphasised this point previously, particularly as imagery and messages considered clear to Western society may be interpreted differently in China.  The article goes on to state that the Chinese consumer market is not static.  A good branding strategy needs to have flexibility to adapt, not only to changing social attitudes, but also to divergent attitudes in different parts of the country.
  • The article sets out some striking numbers regarding the rapid expansion of some leading brands in China.  An aggressive expansion strategy may not be practical for all businesses seeking success in China.  However, having a robust branding strategy in place from the outset will provide a strong foundation for expansion if required.  The article points to areas beyond the coastal cities of Shanghai and Beijing as ‘untapped’ markets having potential.
  • As running a business in China can be difficult to do from outside the country, the article emphasises the importance of building a reliable local team as a foundation to building success.  We would go further to state that it is important to build a China-specific team comprising people both in and out of China.  For Australian businesses, building a network of Australia-based contacts, who are already intimately involved with China, can be an important first step.