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How to read the top 50 brands in China

How to read the top 50 brands in China
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Prophet announced the results of the second China Prophet Brand Relevance Index (BRI), a ranking of the most relevant brands in consumers’ lives. Alipay and WeChat maintained their respective first and second standings as the most relevant brands for the second consecutive year, while Android, IKEA and Apple moved into the top five this year.

The China Prophet Brand Relevance Index measures brands against four principles that have been proven to define brand relevance: customer obsession, ruthless pragmatism, pervasive innovation, and distinctive inspiration. Using these four principles, Prophet conducted a survey of 13,500 Chinese consumers on 235 brands across 30 industries in 39 cities encompassing four tier 1, 16 tier 2 and 19 tier 3 cities.

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Companies from all industries that contribute materially to Chinese household spend were included, except brands in the tobacco and firearms categories or those engaged in primarily business-to-business categories. In some cases, smaller companies that are driving change in their respective industries were also included given their significant traction with consumers. The data was sourced from the P.R.C. Bureau of Statistics’ March 2017 report on consumer expenditures, and Goldman Sachs’ report on the rise of China’s new consumer class.

Top Ten Most Relevant brands in China are:

1 Alipay
2 WeChat
3 Android
5 Apple
6 Nike
7 Estee Lauder
9 Marriot
10 NetEase Cloud Music


Five of the top 10 and almost half of the top 50 brands are in the tech field, while the rest have all invested substantially in digital to better connect with consumers – proving that the most compelling brand experiences happen on demand, across devices and channels – not in one space or during one interaction, the consultancy said in the report.

“Brands today cannot stay still. They need to earn and re-earn loyalty at every micro moment in the customer journey, again and again. They have to be relentlessly relevant. This is more true in China than anywhere else. The brands that scored high in our Index enjoy healthy long-term demand and a strong bottom line because they are constantly reinventing themselves to satisfy and delight consumers,” said Tom Doctoroff, senior partner at Prophet.

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“Chinese consumers today live, work and play in a connected, digital world, so the brands that deliver useful, easily accessible and enjoyable experiences are going to be the most relevant to their lives,” added Doctoroff. “This is our second Brand Relevance Index in China, and Alipay and WeChat dominate once again as the top two brands because they brilliantly use technology to innovate and inspire consumers,” he continued.

Prophet outlined several key findings from the index that reveal major emerging and growing trends in the way consumers interact with brands:

The rise of the “experience economy”

Similar to 2016, 10 luxury hospitality and auto brands rank high in the top 50. Brands like Marriott (#9), W Hotels (#11) and BMW (#8) that focus on exquisite experience and design are ranked higher than most brands for being distinctively inspired. Approximately 20 hotel and auto brands are in the top 100.

A happier and healthier China

Music, gaming, entertainment and sporting goods are on the rise. There are more gaming, entertainment and sports brands in the top 50 than financial services, airlines, beauty and restuarant brands combined. Working out, making the time to connect with friends via games and sports, and enjoying oneself are being valued in China like never before, the consultancy said. There is a growing shift towards prioritising the balance between emotional and physical wellbeing, instead of focusing on just physical health. More than a fifth of the top 50 brands are music (NetEase Cloudmusic #10), gaming (Riot Games #27, Blizzard #29), entertainment (Ocean Park #21, Disney #42) and sports brands (Nike #6, Adidas #20).

SEE ALSO : Affluent Asian millennials value family time, health, says study

The age of digital, socialization and individuality

Digital, social media and ecommerce brands continue to dominate in the index. The top two brands, Alipay and WeChat, are runaway winners that rank highest across all four principles of relevance. Both have built an unrivalled, integrated social, payment, gamification and shopping platform.

Sharing economy brands  continue to grow

As restaurants and airlines continue to lose relevance, sharing economy brands such as Mobike (#14) and Airbnb (#45) rank at the top of the index for being what Prophet calls ‘more pragmatic’. Just outside of top 50 are ofo (#54) and Didi (#87).

“It’s clear to be successful, brands need more than size and ubiquity. They must create a product that people love enough to integrate into their everyday lives. The brands that inspire this level of loyalty will ultimately grow the fastest because they are relevant in the moments that matter most to consumers,” said Leon Zhang, partner at Prophet, based in Shanghai.