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 2 May 2013 00:00 -0400
 Daniel Sperling-Horowitz

Would you buy a product if you knew the brand was owned by a Chinese company? We asked this question in a nationwide survey of 1,500 Americans. 68% percent indicated they would. So what does this mean for Chinese consumer product brands?


Before we get started, let's flashback to our last INSIGHTS by HDTS survey which revealed that 94% of Americans cannot name one Chinese brand. This is a remarkable paradox since China is the second largest economy, and nearly half of all consumer products purchased in the United States are made in China.


We wanted to get a better understanding of American consumer opinion of Chinese brands. More specifically, we wanted to know if the fact that so few Americans can name a Chinese brand is actually a good thing.


Source of apprehension

To determine the source of this sentiment towards Chinese brands, we polled an equal number of Americans regarding Japanese-owned brands. 81% of respondents would knowingly buy these products. This means there is stigma towards Chinese brands relative to our control group.


The subject of a future INSIGHTS by HDTS report, we believe this stigma towards Chinese brands is based predominantly on the perception that Chinese products are of lesser quality, and a general disapproval of Chinese policy.


Proper brand strategy

Every consumer product supplier is unique, and country of origin may in fact play a central role in the identity and marketability of the brand. Therefore, brand positioning must be addressed on a case-by-case basis.


Notwithstanding this notion, we recommend that most Chinese brands pursue a multinational identity. This is unfortunate, considering the vibrance and beauty of China’s longstanding culture, and vast underestimation of Chinese engineering and product quality, which we at HDTS appreciate and value dearly. We suspect this unfortunate truth will be short-lived, as China’s brand development is strikingly similar to the development of Japanese brands. We offer our branding guidance as directly as possible to ensure Chinese suppliers establish branding best practices which empower the achievement of enduring global brand recognition and distribution in the most cost - time and money - effective manner.


To put this concept into context, let’s take a closer look at the successful global market development of Haier Group.


Haier, headquartered in Qingdao, is the world’s #1 major appliance brand according to Euro-Monitor. Many Americans are under the impression that Haier is a German-owned brand, and that's fine by Haier! American consumers are fond of German products, which are synonymous with superior engineering and quality.


Authenticity is critical to developing trust among consumers. Haier does nothing to deceive its consumers, it has simply taken the approach that Haier is a multinational brand. When you visit Haier's website, instead of learning about the history of Haier from it’s Chinese roots (a remarkable story of entrepreneurial vision), you learn about the history of Haier America and the group’s global footprint.



Haier’s brand statement - Smarter Life. Better Planet. - is simple and resonates with consumers. Haier has positioned itself as an environmentally conscious market leader. This corporate brochure is a model for how we believe Chinese suppliers should approach marketing and brand positioning.


In conclusion, in order to brand for rapid success, Chinese consumer product suppliers should take a global approach that is country of origin agnostic. Someday - given ample time for consumer education and policy reform -  this stigma towards Chinese brands will be history, and accentuating Chinese roots may even become a powerful point of brand identity. Until then, it's our mission and great honor to change consumer opinion one great multinationally-branded Chinese supplier at a time.




About this survey

This survey was commissioned by HDTS and conducted by Survata, a web-based survey company.

  • Respondents 40 years of age and older were the least likely (64.5%) to knowingly buy Chinese branded product.

  • The distribution of respondents across states was closely correlated to population.

  • Men were slightly more likely than women to knowingly buy Chinese branded product.

  • A control survey of 1,500 Americans was run, in which the same question was asked of Japanese brands.


About HDTS

When it comes to durable goods, the consumer has many choices. Positioning your brand effectively is the key to brand recognition and long term value creation. At HD Trade Services (HDTS), we believe in the power of brands and the role eCommerce will play in their proliferation. We combine local market expertise and distribution technology to empower leading consumer product companies to profitably and quickly gain brand recognition and market share in foreign markets by targeting relevant consumers and sales channels. Our core focus is helping industry leading Chinese brands with United States market development.


Please contact [email protected] to learn about the details of the survey.


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