This look at China's Top 100 brands is part of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Asia's Top 1000 Brands report. For more on China and the status of Chinese brands according to our research, see the China market report.
The aggressive expansion of China’s top smartphone maker, Xiaomi (小米), into new product categories and new global markets is paying brand equity dividends in Asia. Though Beijing-based Xiaomi did not make it into Asia's Top 100 list, it still landed in 128th place, making it the first Chinese brand to appear in Asia's Top 1000 brands list overall. Within the domestic mainland market Xiaomi maintained its trajectory, rising from 119 last year to 53 this year.
Xiaomi's brand matrix inside China, which is based on an ecosystem of white-label hardware incubators, flash-sales channels and co-branded products with companies such as Philips, is much more complex than its model overseas. Xiaomi has been building this ecosystem since 2013 without any precedent to follow and it has proved to be smartly pervasive.
|China's top 10 brands
Another brand that grew in the China ranking — from third place last year to number one this year — is Chanel (香奈儿), possibly by virtue of originality in marketing. Chanel's recent Coco Game Center, an arcade-themed beauty space in Shanghai's K11 shopping mall, offered a gamified brand experience for its fragrances and cosmetics and was "memorable, fun and playful", according to Milan Jiang, CEO of VeryStar-Linked by Isobar. The pop-up space, which featured a Coco café, lip-shaped remote controls and claw machines, was designed to sell consumers the message about Chanel's brand persona shift from a 'pompous mademoiselle' to a 'chic young lady', and the wider message that luxury brands need not be aloof and unattainable. This gave Chanel a large lead in terms of accrued points in the survey, ahead of the number-two brand in the China ranking: Philips.
Car Inc (神州租车) made its debut in 42nd position; Ikea (宜家) landed at 52, and iQiyi (爱奇艺) came in at 96, thanks to new category additions to the ranking including rental cars, DIY/home furnishings and streaming entertainment.
Oreo's (奥利奥) entry at position 73 in China this year and number one within an already-existing category — crackers and cookies — suggests a brand resonating strongly with Chinese consumers.
Like Chanel, Oreo has a playful brand image. It's most notable recent campaign is the Oreo Music Box, which resonated in the market throughout 2017. The box comes loaded with four original Oreo-themed songs representing different stages of youth in China (junior high school, high school, university and the workplace) that can be 'spun' like vinyl records when you put an actual Oreo biscuit in it and turn the switch on.
Apart from being a "breakthrough" in content marketing, this fits Oreo China's new brand positioning of 'playing together', said Ryan Fan, founder and CEO of Social One. The product has not changed; it's still a common biscuit, but when combined with game mechanics and a playful presentation, it created a "wow moment", he said. After the music box's launch on Oreo's Tmall flagship store, a total of RMB1 million worth of sales were generated within the first hour, according to VML China. Oreo's brand mentions on social platforms WeChat and Weibo increased by 1500%, compared to 2016. The Oreo biscuit itself was the most fundamental trigger for sales growth, Fan added, and in the case of our Top 1000 ranking, mind share growth.
In addition, claiming dominant positions among the top 100 slots in China are Uniqlo (优衣库), rising up 169 spots, Heinz (亨氏), up 130 spots, and Giordano (佐丹奴), up 108 spots.
Children's nutrition company Dumex (多美滋) was a noticeable underperformer, dropping 159 spots and getting jolted out of the China core ranking. Nike (耐克) and Adidas (阿迪达斯) both also lost their chairs in the top ten table.