Carol Huang
Sep 14, 2020

China's strongest local brands: Consumer products replace internet brands

ASIA's TOP 1000 BRANDS: Haier (appliances), Li Ning (casual wear) and Maotai (baijiu) are among the companies more consumers see as strong domestic brands, as Alipay, Taobao and Tmall all slide.

China's strongest local brands: Consumer products replace internet brands


When we asked Chinese consumers to name the strongest domestic brands this year, more traditional consumer products got strong mentions than in priot years. This is a somewhat surprising trend, especially at a time when most of the purchasing is being done online. Perhaps people have started to value the brands themselves more than the platforms that carry them. 

As part of our Asia's Top 1000 Brands research, we ask consumers the following: "What do you think is the strongest local brand in your market? By ‘strongest local brand’ we mean a brand that originates from your market, has the best reputation and resonates most strongly with those living in this market."

2020 2019
Huawei Huawei
Alibaba Alibaba
Haier Alipay
Gree Haier
Midea Taobao
Xiaomi WeChat
Li Ning Gree
Tencent/QQ China Mobile
Lenovo Tencent/QQ
Maotai Tmall

There are some dramatic falls this year. Alipay, which was third in 2019, fell out of the top 10 and now ranks 12th. Likewise Taobao, the biggest e-commerce site in China, fell to 11th this year from fifth in 2019. Its sister platform, Tmall, fell further, from 10th in 2019 to 36th.

Instant messaging app WeChat also fell to 29th this year, although its parent company Tencent retained its position in the top 10 local brands. Perhaps WeChat has become such a part of daily existence that people don't really think of it when asked to name a strong brand. 

However, WeChat also received some criticism during the pandemic. Some articles criticising the government's lack of efficiency when fighting COVID-19 were deleted by WeChat. People do compare the various social-media platforms, and WeChat is considerded one of the most strict in article publishing. 

Maotai, Lenovo and Xiaomi are the brands that gained the most on this list. Maotai, the biggest baijiu seller, with a market capitalisation of RMB 1.8 trillion (US$263.3 billion, more than the biggest Chinese bank, ICBC), rose 11 spots and made it to 10th on this year's list.

However, young people are not sure Maotai is tasty. They drink less liquor overall, preferring soft drinks, as they feel the taste of spirits is too strong. But as Maotai's stock price keeps rising in the Chinese market, young people treat Maotai as an investment. People stock Maotai like they hold properties. "Invest in Maotai" is a trend, rather than drinking Maotai.

Apparel brand Li Ning increases by six spots and ranks seventh in this year's list. The brand has evolved from a traditional sportswear seller to a more expansive trendy brand, catering to the needs of young people.

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