"From embracing brand-building and imbuing brands with a human touch to advancing sustainable business, Chinese companies that harness the power of their brands will survive the tests of adversity and increasingly make their mark on the world as the 21st century unfolds."
The landscape for China's brands is rapidly evolving in the post-digital globally connected world. While China Mobile continues to reign at #1 on our latest Best China Brands report, the brand recently reported disappointing quarterly results. Adapting, innovating and brand building will be key to succeeding for not just the world’s largest phone company, but its peers and rivals also eyeing a bigger share of the global market.
As Interbrand Global Chief Strategy Officer Leslie Butterfield advises, “From embracing brand-building and imbuing brands with a human touch to advancing sustainable business, Chinese companies that harness the power of their brands will survive the tests of adversity and increasingly make their mark on the world as the 21st century unfolds.”
While the tech sector saw big increases in brand value and banks continue to dominate our annual Best China Brands report, insurance brands continued to face challenges. Taking big hits last year with declines in the rankings, this year China Life saw an 18 percent decrease in brand value and drops three spots from last year to become #7 this year. Ping An, which began as an insurance company, but has diversified into financial services and aims to become, according to its website, "a global leading financial services group by leveraging its insurance, banking and investment businesses" held steady, retaining its #6 spot.
Writing of Ping An's success, Butterfield observes, "Recognizing that consumers are struggling with complex financial products, the Ping An brand promises to make managing finances easier. The company’s ability to clarify its brand promise and speaking to real human needs is the reason Ping An continues to thrive, even when the rest of the insurance industry is struggling."
Two brands returning to the report this year are 999 and Shineway. Damage from product safety scandals saw pharmaceutical brand 999 and food group Shineway depart the list in 2012, but 999 comes back in at #40 and Shineway at #45.
With China Mobile holding on to top spot, 50 percent of the top 20 brands in our report are banks. Baidu, #11 this year, has made headlines for trying to bridge the tech and financial services sectors. The recently-launched Baidu Finance Center, an online wealth management platform, registered USD $164 million in investments in its first day—a clear challenge to the country’s state-owned banks, and to rivals such as Alibaba.
The move is the latest in a trend of Chinese tech companies evolving into financial services brands, including Tencent, #4 on Best China Brands 2013. Tencent is a top riser, moving from #11 in 2012 to #4 this year and saw an amazing 84 percent increase in brand value. Its dramatic rise is primarily due to its strong financial outlook. Already the third largest Internet brand in the world, outstripped only by Google and Facebook in terms of market value, Tencent’s huge success with WeChat has boosted its outlook.
Another tech brand, Lenovo, also sees a dramatic increase in brand value this year, moving from #15 in 2012 to #13 with a 64 percent brand value increase.
Home electronics brand Haier also rose on the report from #30 in 2012 to #28 with a 14 percent increase in brand value. As Butterfield comments, "Despite slow growth in the home appliance industry, Haier’s 2012 performance surpassed the whole market. Its secret? Haier actively promotes a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship among employees." Good advice for brands, Chinese or not, with global aspirations.
CEO, Asia Pacfic