Chinese firms learning how to make a name for themselves

There are many great Chinese brands, and some of the largest ones have devoted tens of millions of dollars to market themselves at the World Cup

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 June, 2018, 7:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 June, 2018, 7:00am

Some of China’s biggest companies have chosen the World Cup soccer tournament in Russia to raise their global profiles. It would seem a good strategy; there is no bigger sporting event and joining with Fifa, soccer’s world governing body, as a partner or sponsor, offers a huge marketing opportunity.

 But boosting name recognition to an international audience requires more than signage and a booth; there also has to be a long-term, well-financed advertising and promotional action plan. The continuing lack of awareness among many fans about what a number of the firms do makes obvious much greater effort is needed.

World Cup fans have no idea what Chinese sponsors do in Russia

Wanda Group is arguably the least internationally known company among the seven tournament partners; the others are Adidas, Coca-Cola, Gazprom, Hyundai, Qatar Airways and Visa.

 Its signs, featuring only its logo and name do not hint that it is a conglomerate with wide-ranging business interests from property development to cinemas.

 To varying degrees, Hisense, Mengniu and Vivo, the three Chinese companies among the five sponsors, have less of that problem, being the brands of consumer products. Again, though, despite their financial strength and market presence in China, their global recognition pales beside that of fellow sponsors, Budweiser and McDonald’s.

Appliance maker Hisense and Vivo smartphones sell well internationally, their products being competitive in price and gaining a reputation for reliability. But they still lack the name recognition of Japanese and South Korean brands, a similar problem to that being encountered by the carmaker Great Wall, which aims to be the dominant player in the sports utility market by 2020.

There are many great Chinese brands, but getting name recognition in foreign markets is challenging. The government has recognised the importance of building global brands for the nation’s reputation as well as for economic growth and development.

But only two firms made the consultancy Interbrand’s best global brands list for 2017 – the electronic conglomerate Huawei at 70 and the computer giant Lenovo at 100. That is despite China having 15 firms on BrandZ’s ranking of the top 100 most valuable global brands, with Tencent at number five and Alibaba at nine.

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Chinese companies seeking a global reputation need time and significant funding to sell themselves overseas, just as did Japanese counterparts in the 1970s and South Korean ones in the 1990s. Wanda and other firms that have devoted tens of millions of dollars to market themselves at the World Cup are gaining valuable experience.