China may be one of the few Asian markets to have survived the
region’s economic crash (so far), but that does not mean Western brands
should see it as a bottomless pit of consumer demand.
As the first TGI data on the market shows (see Focus, page 24), the
brand landscape in the world’s fastest-growing consumer market is
unpredictable and Chinese brands are stronger than many might think.
For example, the data shows that Budweiser is not even among the five
most popular beers, lagging behind a clutch of popular Chinese
The US’s other famous export, Marlboro, is also failing to break down
the Chinese wall. It languishes three spots below Hong Ta Shan, smoked
by 13% of the population and thought to be China’s most valuable
But in other sectors, such as detergents and shampoo, Western brands
dominate. Procter & Gamble holds the top spots in both markets, and, as
one of the longest-established foreign players, its tactic has been
gradually to ’de-Westernise’ its brand images. If anything, this proves
that cracking China is no quick fix.