China Brand Relevance Index Reveals Evolving Ways that Consumers Interact with Brands

"Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, actively seeking products and services that provide substance, innovative experience, and belongingness," says Tom Doctoroff.

According to the 2018 China Brand Relevance Index (BRI) survey conducted by global brand and marketing consultancy, Prophet, Chinese consumers have become more strategic in their purchases.

The survey found that they increasingly value meaningful and tangible innovations of home-grown Chinese brands and appreciate enriched experience through content.

Prophet has conducted the BRI survey since 2016. The BRI is solely based on direct consumer feedback which can uncover critical differences and insights.

For 2018, the China BRI survey included views from over 13,000 Chinese consumers on 249 brands across 30 industries. According to the 2018 survey results, the top 10 most relevant brands in China are Alipay, Android, WeChat, Huawei, Microsoft, Taobao, Intel, Meituan, QQ, and Tmall.

“This year, we are glad to see more home-grown brands making striking progress in being pervasively innovative while remaining ruthlessly pragmatic,” Leon Zhang, Partner at Prophet, co-author of the China Brand Relevance Index. “However, global brands still play a leading role in ‘distinctive inspiration’ and ‘customer obsession’.”

Below are the key findings on the trends on how Chinese consumers interact with brands and what’s important to them as consumers:

Home-grown brands fuel growth with meaningful and tangible innovations

Achieving success requires meaningful and tangible innovation that is based on in-depth consumer insights rather than innovation for the sake of innovation or marginal improvements of existing features. As the BRI 2018 shows, home-grown Chinese brands have demonstrated a strong ability to create continuous, tangible innovation, often outpacing that of their international competitors.

Brands that enhance a liberated lifestyle are on the rise

Chinese consumers expect and demand the lifestyle enrichment a platform offers. Many aspects of everyday life have already been integrated in one-stop apps such as Meituan that offer unprecedented convenience and seamlessness. Furthermore, brands such as Meitu connect like-minded groups who share similar interests. Finally, online and offline retail marketplaces have been connected via brands such as Hema Fresh, further enhancing a liberated and seamless lifestyle.

User experience is enriched through curated content

Some of the most relevant brands such as iQiyi are tapping into the matrix of ‘content, community, and commerce’ by curating content based on in-depth consumer insight and commercializing this opportunity whilst creating an entire community around their products.

Home is evolving into the hub for better living

Home has become the new center of gravity in the life of China’s growing middle class. This shift is creating opportunities which all business leaders and marketers must consider tapping in to by building a more relevant consumer value proposition and experiences.

Outbound travelers seek authentic yet familiar experiences beyond borders

Evolving from ‘go to see’ to ‘go to experience’, China’s Frequent Independent Travelers (FITs) are seeking authentic experience by eating, commuting, and living as locals do. However, while Chinese FITs are open to trying new products and experiences, they often appreciate when brands can provide Chinese-friendly products and services without sacrificing the local authenticity.

“Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, actively seeking products and services that provide substance, innovative experience, and belongingness,” said Tom Doctoroff, Chief Cultural Officer at Prophet. “Over the years, we have seen a growing number of brands – both domestic and international – striving to tap into the local market and this trend will be here to stay. To win the hearts of Chinese consumers, brands should be built upon in-depth consumer insights that help boost their relevance to Chinese consumers.”

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