China's brands emerge

06 Nov 2005|LiAnne Yu

I recently spoke on two separate panels, both addressing China’s consumer revolution. One was at the U.S. – China Executive Summit, which included business and political leaders. The second was for World Trade Week in NYC, which included leaders in design and brand management. The key question on everyone’s mind was this: can Chinese brands compete successfully with global ones, like Nike, McDonald’s and Sony? The economists in the crowd were skeptical, citing irrational business practices and a dearth of Western style management skills in China. As an ethnographer and consumer trends watcher, I approach the question from a different angle.

What I’ve seen is a growing spirit of innovation among Chinese businesses, fueled by deep knowledge about Chinese consumer desires and aspirations. Brands like Wahaha (bottled soft drinks and juices) and Yong He Da Wang (fast food) are challenging Coke and KFC. Wahaha’s strategy is to position itself as a national brand, one that stands for China’s emergence onto the global scene. This has struck a chord among young Chinese who are increasingly wary of blindly copying the West, and want to define their own versions of modernity. Yong He Da Wang has positioned itself as a fusion between the efficiency of Western facilities, and the goodness of grandma’s Chinese cooking. This has resonated with concerns about the dramatic increase in obesity among Chinese children – attributed to U.S. fast food.

Chinese brands are moving out of the shadows of their Western counterparts and offering unique, meaningful experiences for consumers. How will your products and services compete with China’s emerging brands?

To learn more about Wahaha, click here.

To read a transcript of the “Branding in China” panel at World Trade Week NYC, click here

prev next