This is about to change as brands such as Tsingtao, Li-Ning and Lenovo scale up their global ambitions, distribution and marketing budgets. Whether they will enjoy success in the West remains to be seen though.
One straw in the wind, however, is Huawei, which sells everything from Android tablets and smartphones to cloud computing. As China liberalised its economy, Huawei worked on instilling a customer-focused culture. More recently, it showed a seriousness about conquering the West by hiring IBM to help it create a world-class marketing structure.
Should Tsingtao, Li-Ning and the rest choose to copy the Huawei template, China could become a marketing powerhouse, as well as a business one.
After all the Facebook fuss over Littlewoods' Christmas TV ad, it's worth examining what started the commotion.
The ad celebrates mothers' ability to give expensive gadgets for Christmas, thanks to interest-free credit. But when people are losing sleep over job uncertainty, is it appropriate for a shop to be seen encouraging an orgy of credit-fuelled bling?
Should Littlewoods be concerned? The sales figures will tell only part of the story. For mothers in particular, Christmas always has the potential to create the gnawing guilt of not being able to afford to live up to others' expectations. This can't be desirable territory for any brand-owner.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk