China's most valuable brands: Tencent, China Mobile and Alibaba dominate

A challenger to Alibaba, a brand marketed by Danone, and an airline feature among ten brands that have broken into Millward Brown's annual BrandZ ranking of the 100 most valuable Chinese brands.

JD.com: a rival to Alibaba
JD.com: a rival to Alibaba

The ranking was topped for the second year running by technology company Tencent, which increased its brand value by 24% to $82.1bn.

The BrandZ ranking is based on financial data from Bloomberg and Kantar Worldpanel combined with consumer opinions gathered from interviews with over 400,000 Chinese consumers since the ranking first launched in 2008.

Most brands saw their value increase, but Alibaba, the online retailer which floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, dropped by 20% to $47.6bn after China’s regulators levelled charges of counterfeit merchandise on Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace.

Alibaba is also being challenged by a rival online retailer, JD.com, which entered the ranking at number 15 after a strong year when annual active customer accounts increased 59%.

According to Millward Brown, JD.com grew sales at a faster rate than Alibaba, in part because of its partnership with Tencent, which enables users of Tencent’s WeChat messaging service to seamlessly move between social networking and ecommerce.

The highest new entrant to the ranking, placing seventh, was telecoms company Huawei, which is well-known as a business-to-business brand but was included this year due to its growing consumer division.

Other new entrants included Mizone, a bottled water brand with functional benefits, marketed by Danone, the French food and dairy giant. It placed at number 81 with a brand value of $398m. With bottled water able to command a price premium, according to Millward Brown, Mizone has effectively reached its target audience of young people with social media and online gaming.

Herborist, a personal care brand, debuted at number 69 with a brand value of $591m. The report describes it as having successfully marketed the combined appeal of natural ingredients and traditional Chinese medicine. The brand reaches international consumers through e-commerce and a physical presence in Europe in the French-owned Sephora stores and in Germany’s Douglas chain.

Anerle is a homegrown brand in the fairly new disposable nappy category, dominated by international brands. It placed at number 76 with a brand value of $460m.

Other new brands included Spring Airlines, car manufacturer Changan, CHJ Jewellery, online video entertainment site Youku Tudou and real estate company Wanda.

Overall, the report found that Chinese brands have narrowed the gap with their multinational competitors in their home market, at least in terms of what Millward Brown calls ‘Salience’ – the quality of consumers thinking of the brand quickly when a purchase opportunity arises.

However, they remain at a disadvantage when trying to distinguish themselves, either functionally or emotionally, especially from multinationals.

Here are BrandZ's top ten most valuable Chinese brands:

  1. Tencent
  2. China Mobile
  3. Alibaba
  4. ICBC
  5. Baidu
  6. China Construction Bank
  7. Huawei
  8. Agricultural Bank of China
  9. Ping An
  10. China Life

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