Chinese brands in US building name recognition

Updated: 2012-12-10 13:44


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Top marketing experts in the United States say Chinese consumer companies are making moves to build "brand name recognition" in the US.

Firms like appliance maker Haier and sportswear company Li-Ning are making significant in-roads. But Chinese companies still face a long path to penetrating the hearts and minds of American consumers.

Special: Chinese enterprises in the US

Many Americans have never heard of sportswear company Li-Ning. But if they're into basketball, as many Americans are, they're beginning to see a glimpse of a potential marketing powerhouse in sportswear.

In October Dwayne Wade, a star player of the Miami Heat signed a shoe endorsement deal with the company founded by the Chinese gymnast Li Ning.

Jamie Moeller is the Head of the Global Public Affairs Practice at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, a firm which advises Chinese companies. He said, "They will not have overnight success, in all likelihood. It's a very challenging and complicated marketplace. But if they're prepared to invest and do the right things over the long term, the payoff can be significant. The next step needs to be building a brand to really compete long-term and succeed long-term in what is a very competitive US marketplace. "

Shanghai business professional Emily Zhang is studying here for a Master of Business Administration and is shocked that Chinese brands are virtually unknown in the US.


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"Do you see Chinese brands here in the United States?"

"Nope. Actually, I am taking marketing class. And our professor talks about branding. There is one slide, putting all the famous brands together, but I cannot see any brands from China. I feel so sad, because they have the brands from Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and India. But I cannot find anything from China."

Not all brands need big stars. The Chinese appliance maker Haier, for example, is sponsoring the National Parks Conservation Association. "Join Haier and the NPCA, and together, we can protect our national parks."

It's all part of a strategy to overcome ingrained resistance to Chinese brands here in the US, according to Ron Goodstein, a marketing Professor at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. He said, "So that there is this big fear that as soon as you hear ‘China' the cultural bias is negative, right away. And I think what's really important is that if Chinese companies want to penetrate the US, they're going to have to work on the public relations aspects of the Chinese brand, from the start."

Another method is to speed up the process of acceptance here by buying up an existing brand and franchise, as Lenovo did with IBM's PC and laptop business.

The ultimate long-term goal then is to become a trusted name in the mind of each consumer so that national boundaries become a peripheral issue—a branding goal which requires persistence to achieve and maintain.