US China global brand summit

Friday 6 November, 2009

I was invited to attend this event US China global brand summit which I could only attend the 2nd of 2 days.  At the close, we were told that the presentations would be made available on the website, but I haven’t seen them you, so I’ll summarize what I saw.

Michael Morley, formerly of Edelman Worldwide on “living the brand” which consists of 6 V’s:

  1. (I missed it)
  2. values-no bribes
  3. vitality-HKSB is the world’s local bank
  4. veracity-truthful & honest, but cultural differences distort these
  5. victory-& have an edge
  6. volunteerism-be a part of the social network

As an example, Lenovo @ the 2008 Beijing Olympics mirrored Sony @ the 1964 in Tokyo & Samsung in Korea in 1988, but with an international team instead of a local one.

Chen Fukuo of Interbrand on “Chinese brand development trends” highlighted the balance between tradition & modernity.  China has changed a lot in 30 years:

  • GDP $305B->$25TR
  • urban population 18%->45%
  • rural Gini coefficient .2->.5
  • overseas travelers 0->40M
  • internet users 0->338M
  • credit cards 0-> 150M cards for 40M people
  • credit consumption 42%/$1.2TR

1/2 of Chinese brands in the 1990’s have now diminished.  The influence of the internet is rising.  IT companies like sina.com are changing the social structure.  State-owned enterprises now have more competitors, although the government still exerts significant influence.  The Chinese are strong in verbal PR & propoganda but weak in the visual.

Wu Xiao Bo of Ping Cheng Advertising Co. on “New media, new idea, new brand” noted that 35 year olds are the biggest internet users & 100M shop online.

Gao Jun of Meikao Advertising Co. on “Chinese elements & Chinese brands” intimated Easterners & Westerners use different ends of the quill pen to write.  Our gods & goddesses differ.  We have different definitions of beauty & rituals.  We eat differently-in the east they mix lots of foods together, while in the west we eat each portion separately.  Medicine is practiced differently:  ying/yang vs. diagnosis  & use herbs vs. drugs. So brand success is very culturally dependent.  Symbols like dragons & tigers are deeply rooted in people’s minds & people respond to them instinctively.

Panel discussion

Scott Markman of the Monogram Group researched US perceptions of Chinese brands & found Americans don’t know them (5% recognition).  When they were given western names, they were remembered 3X more.

Bridget Lee of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council informed China has:

  • 45% mobile phone penetration
  • 100M tourists by 2010
  • 600M consumed wine in 2009
  • sold 9.8M cars (vs. 9.6M in US)

Ma Quan of Tsinghua U. said the Chinese lack the ability to manage rapid change & Chinese artists/designers have difficulty balancing the conflict between creativity & commerce.

Michael Teng of HDT noted Baidu is #1 in Chinese search, but there are 56 ethnicities which speak 100 dialects, e.g. 7-UP is supposed to mean 7-happiness but means “go to hell” in Shanghai.   Nestle preferred a Chinese account rep instead of 1 from Hong Kong.  Our accounting systems differ-we send accounts to bad debt after 3 months, but Chinese companies pay in 6-9 months.

For China fans, I’m sure this was a good conference.


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