Overseas consumers unfamiliar with many Chinese brands
Most Chinese brands are little known by consumers outside of China compared with consumer awareness of global and local country brands. This statement may sound unremarkable, but our findings reveal and quantify the size of the awareness gap. It is wide and Chinese brands will need to work hard to close it.
The challenge of raising awareness crosses many product categories and includes even Chinese companies that have exported for decades as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The OEMs, silent partners that made merchandise for western brands, received little public recognition.
We started with a group of almost 600 brands, including global and local country brands and around 170 Chinese brands. In the seven country markets studied for this report we asked consumers whether they had heard of particular brands or thought about purchasing the brands.
Only 10 percent of consumers were aware of the original 170 Chinese brands. We then selected a subset of Chinese brands that registered some awareness. But awareness for that subset rose only to 15 percent.
In contrast, 60 percent of consumers were aware of the non-Chinese brands, and 27 percent of consumers had considered purchasing a non-Chinese brand. Only 8 percent of consumers had considered a Chinese brand.
Chinese brands with exporting ambitions need to begin with a realistic appraisal of their standing in overseas markets. Most Chinese brands need to assume that they are starting with an awareness disadvantage. Although Chinese products are rapidly improving in quality, unless Chinese brands communicate that improvement they may fail to benefit from its full commercial potential. The same sophisticated digital communication skill that Chinese brands demonstrate at home, they now need to demonstrate abroad.