There was once a time when Chinese consumers put almost every foreign brand on a pedestal. Foreign products and services were of a higher quality, better designed and safer, with standards that were reliably policed. We’re starting to see those perceptions soften. Much loved, Teflon brands such as Apple, Volkswagen and KFC have taken a hit in China of late, in a trend that’s seeing Chinese consumers increasingly warming to local goods and services.
Chinese cars now account for 32% of the auto market; higher than they’ve ever been. In the world’s largest smartphone market, Chinese manufacturers now hold 4 of the top 5 positions for units. Influential Chinese such as the elegant First Lady, Peng Liyuan, are shunning foreign brands for local fashion designers. As you’ll see in the Epsilon survey below, 39% more Chinese consumers now support buying locally-made products than they did 2011. China is a patriotic nation and nationalist in many respects, and as Chinese brands up their game, it is inevitable that many consumers will support their compatriots over foreigners.
Nevertheless there is still a preference for many foreign brands, notably high in categories such as milk powder, cosmetics and luxury goods. However, foreign businesses can no longer take this advantage for granted. They need to work harder than ever to impress an increasingly discerning Chinese consumer, ensuring the supply chain is rock-solid, customer service exceptional and products are at a high standard. Hopefully some of the info below will assist in doing so. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.