How to implement a brand in China?

Brands are becoming increasingly important nowadays. Implementing a brand determines significantly the sales outcomes for a given products. The additional value transmitted through brands represents major competitive advantages triggering sales. Companies searching to enter or build presence in China must ensure a deep understanding of the Chinese market in order to make the right decisions and to focus on specific to the Chinese market characteristics. Undertaking the process of implementing a brand in China is essential to reach the Chinese consumers correctly, especially since the consumers tend to be very brand conscious and value foreign brands very much. Brand Awareness in China has become a real phenomenon where clever and sophisticated advertising is charming the Chinese consumer. Although brand awareness is rise fast, brand loyalty seems to have more difficulty to persist in the Chinese dynamic market. Here is some advice to successfully implement a brand in China.

The first step to implement a brand in China before even entering the Chinese market is to establish the legal rights and prevent others from using the brand in China by registering trademarks in English and in Chinese with the Chinese authorities. Please note that the chosen Chinese name is a key element of the brand implementation. This requires subtitle research. Even Coca-Cola had to chose a Chinese name of “

Ensure Brand Uniqueness

By developing intensely fast, the Chinese market is constantly bombarded by new products. Piercing out of the mass is a real challenge for brands meaning since customers are enforced to make fast choices with poor brand interaction. As a result trying innovating products out has become a habit, as the variety of choices is larger than ever. To get noticed in this very competitive market, brands should focus on delivering unique concepts and different solutions. This uniqueness can be reached by suggesting a personal touch to a product differentiating it from others. But responding accurately to the customers needs must be the priority. The Chinese will remember the brand only if it is different and brand awareness will be enhanced. Also, using ready installed images of a product origin can have a very positive effect over the customer’s willingness to purchase. For example, “Savoir vivre” products from France are very successful in China. Internationally well-known brands are very successful in general.

Establish brand loyalty with transparency

As seen previously, the Chinese population doesn’t attach much importance to brand loyalty. But this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be developed. Working on brand loyalty ensures long-term revenues and comformable sales. This should be developed though long term investments as much in time as in money. A brand promoting the image of sustaining the Chinese environment at the same time as entering the Chinese market will be welcomed very well and not as an other brand wanting to take money from the Chinese. This engages the need to undertake long run investments.

The world trend for transparency in business and brands also applies to the Chinese market. Companies saying the truth are valued, but trust only comes with long-term relationships. Transparency and engagement is the best way to engage loyally of Chinese customers.  Refusing transparency would be a mistake since the government, population and investors are setting high standards every year. The transparency should answer to what the Chinese are concerned about. Economic development and safety are priorities for the Chinese; recently the environment should also be taken into consideration.

Adapt to differences

A brand can’t be implemented correctly if it doesn’t respond to a real specific need. An existing need in the home country doesn’t necessarily engage its existence in China. Cultural differences a must be understood before setting a marketing strategy implementing the brand so that every decision is tailored to the Chinese market. Daxue Consulting supports brands in developing in China by offers a wide range of market research supported by a nationwide reach thanks to a network of contacts in universities.

China is a very large country covering many disparities between regions, income, culture and preferences. A brand must be ready to adapt their products or strategies to those regional characteristics. The Adaptation must be made as much towards product characteristics as over the marketing strategies, the Chinese tent to be very receptive to attractive photos of brands. An effective way to enter the Chinese market and to establish a brand at the same time is to find local partners; those are used to the Chinese environment and enable to avoid making mistakes. Chinese customers tend to highly respect their own brands, nationalism must be analysed before branding a foreign product.

Manage crisis with care

Once a brand implemented, complaints from consumers may be dangerous for the brand reputation. Despite complying with the Chinese rules brand reputation may be destroyed overnight if local regulation appears not to be respected.Apologies and commitment to address problems is the best way to overcome crisis, the legally responsible party isn’t the key issue. Sincerity and respect to the Chinese Government agencies ensures solid working relationships. In addition the online medias favour the instantaneity of brand reputation.

Go online

Impressive images displayed through traditional advertising are very effective to reach customers and implement a brand. But this must be supported by a strong online marketing strategy to get noticed and remembered. Studies show that 37,6% of the Chinese consumers increase they brand awareness through the official company website, by their own initiative. They often research on their mobile phones so adapted mobile websites are ideal to impress and offer an ideal opportunity to deliver clear messages and positioning. This can be associated with online advertising that is expected to increase drastically in the upcoming years and there are currently 1.29 billion mobile users in China.

Proactivity from brands increases customer participation that may result in sharing which will support the brand implementation. Ideally brands should build a large network on the most commonly used networks and applications. QQ, Weibo and Wechat aren’t avoidable by brands establishing in China.

After having registered the brand name in home language but also the chosen Chinese, companies desiring to implement their brand in China must be unique, loyal, transparent, trustful, adaptable, and caring. A brand can consider itself really successful when those aren’t monitoring an image anymore but when they master the art of engagement, letting others to participate andmutually build the brand’s strength and implementation.

Adrian, Daxue Consulting 


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