China economy

Alipay, WeChat and Android are top brands Chinese consumers cannot live without

Survey by marketing consultancy Prophet of more than 13,500 consumers in 39 mainland cities reveals the increasing relevance of technology-related brands in everyday lives

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 10:57am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 11:07pm

Alipay, WeChat and Android are the top three brands that Chinese consumers cannot live without, in a reflection of how technology has filtered through their daily lives, according to a consumer survey.

All three Chinese companies on the top 10 brands list are technology related, with the music app NetEase Cloud Music coming in at No. 10, the global branding and marketing consultancy Prophet said on Thursday as it unveiled its 2017 brand relevance index for China.

“Chinese consumers today live, work and play in a connected, digital world, so the brands that deliver useful, easily accessible and enjoyable experiences are going to be the most relevant to their lives,” said Tom Doctoroff, a senior partner at Prophet.

The rest of the list is dominated by brands that include Ikea, Apple, Nike, Estee Lauder, BMW and Marriot hotels.

The consultancy surveyed more than 13,500 Chinese consumers in 39 cities on the mainland about which among 235 household brands in 30 industries were most relevant to them this summer.

Five of the top 10 and almost half of the top 50 brands are technology-led, while the rest have all invested substantially in digital to better communicate with consumers.

Digital, social media and e-commerce brands continue to dominate the index when compared with last year, while music, gaming, entertainment and sporting goods are on the rise.

The top two brands, Alipay and WeChat, are runaway winners and rank highest across all four principles of relevance – customer obsession, pragmatism, inspiration and innovation.

Alipay, with a real name user pool of 450 million by 2016, is the payments platform under Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post. WeChat, the popular messaging app operated by tech giant Tencent, boasts 963 million active monthly users.

“Overall, the relationship between digital and individual in the West is significantly more functional,” Doctoroff told the South China Morning Post in Shanghai. “But In China, where ambitions are huge but social regimentation keeps people from [expressing themselves or] realising their ambitions, people project a lot of their emotions onto their digital selves.

“So that’s why I think these tech brands are all so rich and meaningful for people – it is not just an utilitarian, convenient relationship,” he said.

“There is no way in America that you are going to have PayPal [the western equivalent of Alipay] to rank No. 1,” Doctoroff said, stressing the more apparent emotional connection between tech brands and Chinese consumers.

The China index was part of a survey of 50,000 consumers in China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, about 750 brands.

Brands not included were those in the tobacco and firearms categories, and companies engaged primarily in business-to-business activities.