Alipay, WeChat top league of most relevant brands in China

Chinese tech giants see off western rivals like Visa and Uber to take first and second place in Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 3:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 10:08pm

Alipay, the mobile payment service controlled by Alibaba Group, and Tencent’s social media platform WeChat topped the list of the most “relevant” brands in China, as consumers in the world’s second largest economy become increasingly digital-savvy, a recent survey showed.

Also making into the top 10 are credit card giant Visa, luxury hotel chain Marriott and ride-hailing app Uber, brands that are winning the hearts of China’s middle class as they travel more often and further afield, according to the Brand Relevance Index published by US marketing consultancy Prophet.

The San Francisco based firm compiled data from nearly 10,000 consumers across 24 industries ranging from airlines and apparel to dairy and beer, with the aim of figuring out which brands are the “most indispensable to their lives.”

Alipay, which took first place, “dominates all four brand relevance pillars we measure,” the survey report said.

The company holds the lion’s share of China’s mobile payment market. In 2015 it had 450 million active users, processing 175 million transactions daily.

Widely seen as a “digital wallet,” it enables consumers to make online purchases and go grocery shopping, transferring funds with a few taps on the app. Alibaba, its parent company, owns the South China Morning Post.

In second place is WeChat, a messaging app operated by tech giant Tencent that can also handle digital payments and e-commerce for 700 million monthly active users. “WeChat performs exceptionally well in the ‘Meets an important need of my life’ [category] because once you have it, you simply cannot live without it,” the report said.

Although domestic players snatched the top two spots, western brands dominated the rest of the league, with Visa ranking third and Marriott grabbing fourth place. They were followed by Uber, US carmaker Ford, German sportswear titan Adidas, automotive manufacturer Volkswagen and Swedish furniture retailer Ikea.

Prophet reckoned that Visa has earned consumers’ trust by providing digital-driven paying services and being readily available beyond the Chinese border, while Marriott’s success lay largely in its strategic wooing of affluent mainland travellers, which included introducing tailor-made, digital-oriented services.

Among carmakers, Ford beat its German rival Volkswagen as the “most relevant” car brand in China, thanks to robust demand for its sports utility vehicles. In the sportswear sector, Adidas outshone Nike in the survey as it went beyond first-tier cities and built its brand profile with the help of star endorsers such as David Beckham and Kanye West.