When I think about Chinese brands, Alibaba and Tencent would immediately spring to mind. Both are eCommerce and internet value-added services platforms in China. In a short space of a little over 10 years, these two giants have achieved remarkable success, but mostly within the Chinese borders. Their innovation, extensive penetration to people's lives and their sheer size are many reasons for awe. But to an average person living outside of China, these brands are remote, unfamiliar and even peripheral, as one would unlikely be using their service unless you have a regular interaction with people in China.
Here are 4 Chinese Brands that might already be part of your lifestyle without you noticing. Using their strong domestic foundation, these brands have built superior products or services and have made them available to many people outside of China. Many of these brands are at the forefront of technological innovation, and have played an important role in shaping the global millennial perspectives of Chinese brands from being low price and low quality to innovative and disruptive.
BYD whose name stands for BUILD YOUR DREAM is one of the world's best selling electric vehicle company, designing, developing, manufacturing and distributing electric passenger cars, buses and trucks. BYD vehicles are not only manufactured in China, but also in Southern California, USA. Chances are that you might have already ridden on a BYD bus in London or a BYD-manufactured Uber car in Chicago or New York. Recently, it has announced its biggest monorail contract thus far with the Brazillian government, flexing its muscles in the public transportation sector.
DJI is the world's leading brand in commercial and civilian unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones. Based in Shenzhen, DJI designs, develops, manufactures and retails drones worldwide. In 2017, DJI won a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for its camera drone technology. It's likely that you have watched some breathtaking low-altitude aerial shots made possible by DJI technology in films and TV shows, including Game of Thrones. It is widely reported that the company's revenue reached US$2.7bn in 2017, having grown 80% year-on-year and dominating 70% of global market share.
CTRIP is the world's 2nd largest online travel services agency and the largest in China. The company was also named the top travel agency brand in BrandZ's top 100 Chinese Brands in 2018. CTRIP has a strategic relationship with Booking.Com and recently, they announced a partnership allowing OPENTABLE's restaurant inventory be made available to CTRIP's customers. CTRIP acquired SkyScanner in 2017 and invested into Boom Supersonic, a US-based supersonic aircraft maker. The company has a strong intent on global expansion and is the force that is moving around hundreds of millions of Chinese tourists around the world that we encounter every day. They have also launched their English language site - Trip.com which will surely be a destination for not only Chinese, but many travellers around the world.
HAIER is China's leading Consumer Electronics and Home Appliances company, designing, manufacturing and distributing globally their products and managing multiple brands. According to Euromonitor, the company's sales in 2017 account for over 10% of global market share in white goods and over 20% in refrigeration market alone, meaning one in five fridges is a Haier product. In 2012, Haier bought the New Zealand appliance manufacturing company Fisher & Paykel. In January, 2016 Haier acquired General Electric's appliance division for $5.4 billion. It is a Chinese brand closer to home than you would have thought.
Anticipating that a day will dawn when Chinese domestic market will saturate and that one day economic growth will slow down, many smart Chinese brands are taking advantage of their current strong domestic position to extend their reach, to develop new markets and also more importantly to build lasting brand equity that will allow them to sustain growth in the long run. We are seeing the smartest Chinese brands accelerating their efforts in international marketing and brand development to a global audience, as we all witnessed many of them advertising in the recent World Cup in Russia. Beyond advertising, there is so much more needs to be done for a brand to fully immerse into the lives of its customers.
As China shifts to a consumption economy, now is the time for Chinese brands to establish their global presence and reputation. And as with most things from China, that will happen in a blink of an eye.
About the author
Bonnie Chan Woo is the CEO of Icicle Group. She leads the company’s strategic development with a special focus on brand integration in original content. The piece was also published on her LinkedIn page.