Going global is more of a potential opportunity for most Chinese brands rather than a reality, as overseas consumers remain relatively unaware of Chinese brands, according to BrandZÔ research. But the situation is changing. (See Part 2: Going Global in this report)
In the BrandZÔ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2017, the Top 10 brands ranked by the percent of revenue derived from overseas business averaged 40 percent. Just a few years ago, in 2011, the Top 10 Chinese brands with business outside of China gained only 24 percent of revenue from overseas.
The same categories that appeared in last year’s Overseas Revenue Top 10 are present again in the 2017 ranking, with some fluctuation in the amount of revenue derived from abroad. Technology, airlines, and home appliances are present with three brands each, and Oil & Gas with one brand.
These categories represent a mix of the old economy, led by strategic State Owned Companies (SOEs), and the new consumption-driven economy with the growth of market-driven brands.
Lenovo, the maker and marketer of PCs, smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs, leads the ranking with 72 percent of its revenue derived from overseas sales. Second and third ranked brands, Huawei and ZTE, gain 58 percent and 47 percent of revenue, respectively, from sales outside of China. Established in 1987 as a telecommunications manufacturer, Huawei today is the world’s third largest maker of smartphones, in number of shipments.
Third-ranked ZTE provides information and communications systems and equipment in over 160 countries. TCL, Number 4 in overseas revenue, is a maker and marketer of consumer electronics worldwide, with a special focus on multimedia entertainment and smart TVs. The technology overseas revenue leaders are hardware brands. Despite the innovations of China’s Internet brands, they do not gain substantial revenue outside of China because of Internet regulatory differences between China and the West.
The three airline brands – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines – are all SOEs that collectively represent substantial share of the Chinese airlines business. They have aggressively expanded their international routes to facilitate, and benefit from, rapidly growing inbound and outbound travel.
Midea Group, owner of the appliance brand Midea, continued to drive overseas growth with the acquisitions of Kuka, the German robotics company and the appliance division of Japan’s Toshiba. Hisense strengthened promotion in the US. With oil prices low, Petrochina looked overseas for opportunities to use surplus engineering and refining capacity.