‘Made in China’ manufacturer image will need some time to improve, Ogilvy says

From Haier to Huawei, major Chinese firms already popular on the mainland have found that the road to becoming international home names has been rocky, but things could be looking up.

“I think we’re seeing it beginning to evolve now,” Scott Kronick, Asia Pacific president and CEO of Ogilvy PR, told CNBC.

While China relied less branding and communication when it embarked on source accumulation in the past due 1990s, Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM in 2005 became an inflection stage, Kronick said.

“When you saw that happen, … all the Chinese firms were saying they want to carry out a Lenovo. They would like to go and produce world reports by acquiring a significant business, like the IBM PC organization,” Kronick said.

The PR executive also credited the greater willingness of Chinese corporates to better understand consumers in overseas markets, instead of simply just blindly applying existing business models, as another reason for changing attitudes to mainland brands.

Some companies also have taken to partnering with an increase of well-established names to stick out from their competitors. For example, Huawei, which already invests heavily in research and development and marketing, has partnered with high grade camcorder maker Leica on more than a few smartphone models to appeal to the high-end buyer segment.

“I think those partnerships are very important to brands like Huawei and Oppo. Absolutely. I think anything that will raise the waters of these brands, that’s very, incredibly important,” Kronick said.

While the most the top brands in the world are based in the U.S., Chinese brands are gradually climbing in value, according to Millward Brown’s annual statement on the most effective global brands. In 2017, 13 of the most notable 100 global brands were based in China, a rise from the solitary Chinese manufacturer on the list 12 years back.

“It takes time. After all, these brands aren’t built overnight … Every single bit of communication builds onto that,” Kronick said.

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