• Research finds that Chinese consumers have become more sophisticated and strategic in their purchase, and increasingly value meaningful and tangible innovations.
  • This year, local brands constitute of the majority of the Brand Relevance Index’s Top 50 brands across all surveyed industries with the addition of several new brands.
  • For the first time, the rise of local brands is fueled by innovation, not basic price/value reassurance. Several local brands beat MNC brands in being ‘‘pervasively innovative’.
  • Technology and tech-enabled relevant customer experience undoubtedly are the key drivers in building relevance in China. The Top 10 and over half of the Top 50 brands are technology or tech-enabled brands.

Shanghai, Hong Kong, 13 September 2018 – According to the China 2018 Prophet Brand Relevance Index™ (BRI) survey conducted by Prophet, a global brand and marketing consultancy, Chinese consumers have become more strategic in their purchase. They increasingly value meaningful and tangible innovations of home-grown Chinese brands and appreciate enriched experience through content.

Prophet has conducted the BRI survey annually since 2016, helping brand leaders measure the relevance of their brands to consumers and providing them with a practical framework for unlocking new sources of growth. The BRI is the only brand ranking that is solely based on direct consumer feedback which can uncover critical differences and insights. In 2018, the China BRI survey included views from over 13,000 Chinese consumers on 249 brands across 30 industries. According to the 2018 survey results, the top 10 most relevant brands in China are Alipay, Android, WeChat, Huawei, Microsoft, Taobao, Intel, Meituan, QQ and Tmall.

Leon Zhang, Partner at Prophet, co-author of the China Brand Relevance Index said: “Undoubtedly, relevance with consumers is fundamental in building a strong brand. This year, we are glad to see more home-grown brands making striking progress in being pervasively innovative while remaining ruthlessly pragmatic. However, global brands still play a leading role in ‘distinctive inspiration’ and ‘customer obsession’. At the end of day, it is the in-depth understanding of customers that helps decide the focus of brand-building, whether the brand strives to take its advantages to the next level or offset its weaknesses.”

Home-grown brands fuel growth with meaningful and tangible innovations – Achieving success requires meaningful and tangible innovation that is based on in-depth consumer insights rather than innovation for the sake of innovation or marginal improvements of existing features. As the BRI 2018 shows, home-grown Chinese brands have demonstrated a strong ability to create continuous, tangible innovation, often outpacing that of their international competitors.

Brands that enhance a liberated lifestyle are on the rise – Chinese consumers expect and demand the lifestyle enrichment a platform offers. Many aspects of everyday life have already been integrated in one-stop apps such as Meituan that offer unprecedented convenience and seamlessness. Furthermore, brands such as Meitu connect like-minded groups who share similar interests. Finally, online and offline retail marketplaces have been connected via brands such as Hema Fresh, further enhancing a liberated and seamless lifestyle.

User experience is enriched through the “matrix of 3Cs” – Some of the most relevant brands such as iQiyi are tapping into the “matrix of 3Cs” (content, community and commerce) by curating content based on in-depth consumer insight and commercializing this opportunity whilst creating an entire community around their products.

Home is evolving into hub for better living – Home has become the new center of gravity in the life of China’s growing middle class. This shift is creating opportunities which all business leaders and marketers must consider tapping in to by building a more relevant consumer value proposition and experiences.

FITs seek authentic yet familiar experiences beyond borders – Evolving from ‘go to see’ to ‘go to experience’, China’s Frequent Independent Travelers (FITs) are seeking authentic experience by eating, commuting, and living as locals do. However, while Chinese FITs are open to trying new products and experiences, they often appreciate when brands can provide Chinese-friendly products and services without sacrificing the local authenticity.

Tom Doctoroff, Chief Cultural Officer at Prophet said: “Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, actively seeking products and services that provide substance, innovative experience and belongingness. Over the years, we have seen a growing number of brands – both domestic and international – striving to tap into the local market and this trend will be here to stay. To win the hearts of Chinese consumers, brands should be built upon in-depth consumer insights that help boost their relevance to Chinese consumers.”

About the Prophet Brand Relevance IndexTM (BRI) 2018

The Prophet Brand Relevance Index™ is released in four countries — China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Prophet surveyed 47,845 consumers across the U.S., UK, Germany and China about 800 brands. It partnered with Research Now SSI, the world’s leading global provider of first-party consumer and professional data based on extensive, proprietary market research panels, to program, field, collect and tabulate data.

In China, Prophet surveyed 13,000 consumers about more than 249 brands across 30 industries. Each participating consumer rated up to five brands within a single category on 16 different attributes that correspond to the four principles of relevance Prophet identified. To rate a brand, a consumer had to be familiar with the brand and a frequent consumer in the brand’s category.

About Prophet

Prophet is a consultancy that helps clients unlock uncommon growth by developing new business models, reimagining brands and experiences, driving demand and customer engagement and empowering people to transform their organizations. The largest privately-owned firm of its kind, Prophet brings a unique blend of creative and strategy to identify paths to purposeful, transformative and sustainable growth.

Based in San Francisco, with 12 global offices and more than 500 strategists, data analysts, marketers, digital experts and creatives, Prophet has worked with the world’s most successful companies, including BOE, Mei One, Midea, ABInbev, AXA, Samsung and Marriott, partnering with them from ideation to in-market execution.  Prophet.com