GREATER CHINA - Among China consumers, Apple is the number one brand in the mainland, while Samsung has aced out Apple in Hong Kong, according to the Campaign Asia-Pacific 2012 Asia’s Top 1000 Brands report, the biggest and most influential survey of brands in the region.
In its ninth year running, the report is based on a survey conducted by Campaign Asia-Pacific and Nielsen, targeting consumers in 12 key regional markets across Asia Pacific: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
It covered 14 major products and services categories across 73 sub-categories. The ranking was ascertained based on responses to questions that asked respondents to name the best brand that came to their minds in a category. The results were then weighted to reflect the age, gender and monthly household income representative of the general population.
In the China country survey, the top 10 brands to make it to the list are Apple, Nestlé, Chanel, Sony, Samsung, Uni-president, Panasonic, Nike, Canon and Starbucks, with luxury retail brand Chanel being a notable new entry.
"Apple's clear strategic line of thinking and its delivery of an uncluttered and clearly-differentiated portfolio of products has led to it being regarded as an innovator—a brand character that is very fitting in a market that is progressing rapidly like China, where status quo is not accepted," said Jan Van Loon, deputy managing director of Oracle Added Value China.
He expects that the brand will continue to be at the top of the list for years to come as its products become more and more available. "Apple will be able to attract a loyal consumer base with a stronger and more consistent tone of voice than its competitors".
Apart from Chanel, other luxury brands to show a rise are Gucci (17), Armani (24), and Louis Vuitton (38). In Van Loon's opinion, this is a direct result of GDP growth in China. "We have seen an increasing number of people buying luxury goods in order to make statements of their individual successes. Furthermore, luxury goods come with a quality guarantee that make them good investments," he added.
Another trend to surface in the China ranking is the weaker standing of homegrown brands. While last year’s survey showed eight out of the top 20 being domestic brands, this year’s results show only three local brands within the top 20, namely Tong Ren Tang (11), MasterKong (14), and Haier (15). Mengniu and Baidu, which appeared in the top 10 last year, rank 89 and 37, respectively, this year.
Local brands have a weaker case because global brands have invested a lot in getting close to their customers, according to Van Loon. "Unlike their local counterparts, global brands pay significantly more attention to the emotional benefit of their products than just functional delivery. Their strategies have shifted from trying to dominate the market with product designs to winning the consumers’ hearts by showing respect and understanding. Despite more premium positionings, they have managed to grow market share," he explained.
Despite its strong standing in China, Apple came up short against fellow consumer electronic brand Samsung in the consolidated survey rankings in Hong Kong. It claimed the second spot trailing after Samsung while Sony, Nestlé and Panasonic round up the top five.
Generally, homegrown Hong Kong brands also fared comparatively weaker among Hong Kong consumers. Only two local brands made it into the top 20: Watsons (9) and HSBC (12). Other local brands that slid include Manning’s (from 27 to 32), Cathay Pacific (from 19 to 34), and Park n’ Shop (from 21 to 45).
Interesting to note as well, Hong Kongers gave highest priority to global brands such as Heineken (beer), BMW (automobile), DHL (courier company) and SK-II (female skin care product), an aspect congruent with consumers up north.