Authors: Basile Theaud (BCSA), Carmen M. Ammendola (BSBI)
When talking about businesses and how they are developing their personal brand identities and marketing strategies, it is impossible as of today not to consider the fundamental role that China covers, as the second largest market of the world.
With a GDP of 12.24 trillion dollars China owns 19% of the world’s wealth, and two of the most successful sectors in the market are fashion luxury and technology.
Owning 21% of the luxury market, according to Bain & Company, China is expected to become the world’s largest luxury market by 2025.
As for now, many companies in the luxury business are gambling their future on China. L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetic company entered Chinese markets in 1997. Since then, L’Oréal has expanded to become one of the nation’s most loved and purchased luxury cosmetic brands, thanks to its strategy of consumer centricity and social listening, according to which it has launched complementary brands and products in various categories.
After having carefully chosen to target young consumers, L’Oréal has been able to create a successful marketing campaign, capable of making the company earn millions of dollars, by making Yuan Wang, an 18-year-old Chinese idol from boy band TFBoys, its newest Chinese brand ambassador in 2018.
Italian brands have also been focusing their attention on the Chinese market. Giorgio Armani, who entered Chinese markets in 1998. In 2012 Armani’s profits grew by 23% thanks to China; and it is for this reason that Giorgio Armani decided to establish the “One night only in Beijing” an elite event of the fashion house, this time totally dedicated to China. The brand today has about 141 boutiques in China and is one of the most successful brands there.
The brand has focused a lot on digital marketing and used all the available media (Weibo, WeChat, Tmall Luxury Pavilion and JD Toplife) and in the most effective ways to carry out their promotional campaigns.
Armani, in addition, has chosen the actors Hu Ge as brand ambassador and Li Yifeng as the second testimonial of the brand for the Armani AX Exchange collection, the line dedicated to the youngest, considered among the most influential in the Chinese market. Suffice it to say that Armani’s advertising videos published on the social media of the two actors have more than doubled the engagement compared to the content published on the official account of the brand itself.
Chinese Businesses operating in the fashion industry have been developing their brand identity in recent years, however, the fashion industry is not the only Chinese industry working on creating a unique brand and differentiating themselves. The technology industry has similarly focused on developing brand identity, major Chinese tech companies such as One Plus, Xiaomi, DJI, Vivo and Huawei have all strived towards creating a unique and renowned brand.
A recent study undergone by Google and Kantar found that Chinese brands experienced a continued rise in brand awareness in developed markets during 2021. In fact, each year Chinese companies such as DJI, Xiaomi, and One Plus gain a more significant share of the global consumer market. Shockingly, few successful global Chinese consumer brands existed a mere decade ago, what happened? One answer is the Chinese organizations’ unparalleled logistics and innovation capabilities. However, this only tells half the story, much of the praise belongs to Chinese companies’ ability to create meaningful, different, and salient brands.
Branding, for many Chinese companies, has evolved from a function of business that was “nice to have” and simply a communication activity run by a marketing department into “need to have” as companies strive to become global icons like their western counterparts. One aspect holding back these companies is the historical significance of products being “Made In China” often seen as low-cost and low-quality; building the perception of a quality brand coming out of China is a major challenge for Chinese companies.
Huawei is an example of what branding can do for Chinese companies. In just 30 years since its founding, Huawei is today a global behemoth competing against Apple and Samsung. Whose products and solutions are deployed in over 170 countries. This success can be attributed to one thing; Huawei revamped its corporate identity to represent concepts of customer-focus, innovation, stability, and harmony, recognizing that an identity change would be required to follow its ascension on the world arena. A change that many of its competitors are starting to undertake in an attempt to not be left behind.