JWT report examines Chinese brands on global stage

New York : In its August trend report, JWT, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, explores how China’s leading crop of brands is chipping away at some of the key factors standing in the way of global success.

China is actively seeking to export more than just the rest of the world’s manufactured goods. But before the country can develop a cohort of strong brands, its marketers will have to remake what “Made in China” means to consumers. “Changing perceptions of Chinese-made goods won’t be easy. But we’re seeing some bold Chinese brands starting to do so, using an array of strategies. As we move into what many forecast will be a ‘Chinese Century,’ there is tremendous potential for Chinese brands to break through,” says Ann Mack, director of trendspotting for JWT.

This report details the external and internal factors hindering the efforts of Chinese brands to take root in developed markets, examining the negative perceptions among Western consumers as well as reasons that most Chinese firms can’t yet compete with global brands. It also details some of the strategies that leading Chinese brands, from Lenovo and Li-Ning to Haier and Huawei, are deploying to knock down these roadblocks to expansion. Researched on the ground in Shanghai, the report includes the results of a JWT survey that explored how American and British consumers feel about China and the products and brands coming out of the country.

“Remaking ‘Made in China'” is the result of research conducted by JWTIntelligence throughout the year. Specifically for this report, JWTIntelligence fielded a quantitative study in the U.S. and the U.K. using SONARTM, JWT’s proprietary online tool, from May 31-June 4, 2012, surveying 503 Americans and 503 Britons aged 18-plus. In addition, we conducted on-the-ground research in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, and interviewed several experts and influencers, including Tom Doctoroff, JWT North Asia area director and Greater China CEO for JWT Shanghai.

Our survey found that consumers are carrying over their negative perceptions of Chinese-made onto Chinese-branded; for instance, fewer than 3 in 10 respondents with low opinions of Chinese brands had personally had poor experiences with Chinese labels. “Given this handicap, Chinese brands looking to make their mark must compete at or above a world-class level,” says Mack. “But it’s important to note that consumers have positive perceptions of China too—especially around its heritage and people—and brands have opportunities to drive new conversations about the Middle Kingdom.”

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