The brand value of top privately held companies in China is growing faster than that of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), a study by Millward Brown says.
The global research agency credits private firms' bigger efforts to innovate, closer bonds with consumers and more precise marketing positioning.
It released its BrandZ list of the 50 most valuable mainland brands yesterday. The report found non-SOEs' share of brand value has risen to 27 per cent this year, from 22 per cent when the ranking started two years ago.
"We believe private companies will continue to gain a larger share in our ranking over the next few years, although the large-scale state-owned companies will still dominate the list," Doreen Wang, head of branding at Millward Brown China, said.
The total value of the top 50 mainland brands has fallen 1.6 per cent this year owing to the slowing economy, the study shows, but the brands' influence on consumers is increasing.
China Mobile, the world's largest telecommunications provider, topped the ranking for the third consecutive year, with an estimated brand value of US$50.6 billion. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank were second and third.
Internet giants Baidu and Tencent are among the top gainers, moving up from sixth and tenth to fourth and fifth, respectively. Other brands rising significantly include menswear retailer Septwolves, dairy producers Yili and Bright Dairy, the well-known liquor Maotai, meat food manufacturer Shuanghui and Tsingtao beer.
There are four newcomers to the top 50: Bank of Communications, Harbin Beer and fashion retailers Youngor and Semir.
The list is based on the views of more than 35,000 mainland consumers, financial data and market information.
"Some of the brands are succeeding faster than others, because they are either in a fast-growing industry, like the technology sector, or they've managed to establish an emotional bonding with consumers and make their brand meaningfully differentiated from others," said David Roth, chief executive of retail consultancy The Store WPP, a firm related to Millward Brown.
But despite the increasing brand power of mainland companies, the study also found an erosion of trust in most brands among consumers. Wang said this was partly because mainland consumers are becoming more educated and sophisticated.
"People are demanding much more from a brand than before, and they care more about what they can get for the money they paid," she said.