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China 2014: Welcome

It’s addressing some of the unintended consequences of the past 30 years of rapid economic expansion, like air pollution, while also adjusting the levers of the economy to ensure healthy and steady future growth.

This is one more significant inflection point in the history of modern China. It potentially could exert influence equivalent to the “Reform and Opening Up” of 1978, with its liberalized economy and expanded international trade.

And like the years following “Reform and Opening Up,” the era of the rebalancing will have an impact on brands. When the most populous nation fuels its market- driven economy the pressures and opportunities are enormous.

And they’re not totally predictable. I can promise this, however:?strong brands will be essential?for competitive success; and knowledge, insight and effective brand development will be the keys to that success.

Welcome to the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2014.


New brands and categories

This is the fourth year of what’s quickly become the definitive annual study of brand valuation and brand development in China. For an even more extensive view of the market, and to anticipate the impact of rebalancing on Chinese brands, we doubled the number of brands analyzed, from 50 to 100. As a result, we added eight new categories, bringing the total covered to 21.

Our initial analysis of these more expansive data revealed something of great interest—a peek at the future of brands in China. We discovered that brands in the added portion of the ranking are predominately market driven, rather than state owned, and high in brand contribution, the BrandZ™ measure of brand strength.

These findings mean that Chinese entrepreneurs have been developing market-driven companies and valuable brands across many product and service categories for some time. And these brands now will grow more rapidly in value as rebalancing unleashes competition.

This inevitable brand evolution raises many questions. What’s the effect on Chinese brands compared with foreign brands in China? How does the shift influence competition between market-driven brands and SOEs (State Owned Enterprises)? How does it impact the momentum of Chinese brands going global?

The BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2014 contains answers from over 125 WPP brand experts at 23 WPP companies in China. They added knowledge to the extensive BrandZ™ analysis and brand valuations from Millward Brown.


Knowledge and communication

I’ll share one conclusion, which emerged from examining four years of data, including hundreds of thousands of consumer interviews, as we compared the brand equity of Chinese brands and foreign brands in China. Chinese brands have caught up. They lag in only one crucial aspect: meaningful differentiation. That’s the missing piece for Chinese brands; it’s a critical element for the brands ranked 51 to 100 to move into the upper tier of the BrandZ™ Top 100 Chinese ranking.

To succeed in a more competitive, rebalancing China, brands also need to understand the changing desires of Chinese consumers as consumers themselves rebalance. And brands need to identify and execute the most effective communication strategies and tactics to reach and influence these changing consumers. In addition, new consumer priorities—the desire to balance work and free time, the importance of personal and family well-being—open the possibilities for brands from a wider range of categories. New technologies add possibilities, too.