It takes no time to recognize where these brands are from: Dong Feng, Geely, Suning, Pingan, Li-Ning, Mengniu… and the list goes on. Right you are: “made in China”! Again, branding is about conviction with positive perception, isn’t it? It is a global war of sustained perception. While China has gone a long way in last ten years or so in terms of quality assurance, the negative connotation of being cheap and of low quality has been sustaining for quite some time.
In a recent survey (Sept, 2012) on American consumers, conducted by Perception Research Services of USA, revealed that “made in China” is more positively associated with “cheaper” products. People aged 35 and above are likely to perceive “made in China” more negatively than younger consumers below that age group. The interesting outcome of this research shows while older consumers might still be cherishing some sort of preconceived notion of quality, younger consumers are open-ended to try and evaluate what these products do stand for. There are two-pronged challenges that emerge here: first, how older customers (who could be important opinion leaders) can be connected to Chinese brands, second, how quickly these brands can create a positive brand experience for younger ones. It is about changing the perception of China from the very beginning. It is a challenge of graduating from a regional brand perception to a global brand perception.
It appears that, Chinese brands have started fighting this perception from the very beginning: starting from naming the new-born! If you look at the naming practices of Chinese brands for last ten years or more, you will find an increasing tendency to keep English or European sounding names of Chinese brands. While it is true that a brand name is not everything- consumers’ value and experience count a lot, well, once a brand name can hit the proper perception point at consumers’ minds, subsequent positive experience and perception can be built upon in the long-run.