Is your company losing luster back home? Brands are finding growth opportunities in China by reinventing themselves in order to targeting a growing consumer market. Here’s how five international brands have started a clean slate by reinventing themselves through their branding in China.
This is the second article in a short three-piece series called “Why China?” This week, we focus on how brands are reinventing themselves in China in order to target a growing consumer market.
- C&A: From Cheap to Foreign Chic
C&A, a middle market retailer brand based in Europe, was known for its affordable price points. To make a name for itself in China, C&A knew it couldn’t sustain itself with this image. In order to bring in larger profits in China, it needed to improve its reputation by positioning itself as a higher-end, imported western label. This approach helped with its success in the region. According to its site, C&A China now has 84 stores in 21 cities to date with 15% of its business in ecommerce.
- Buick: From Grandfather to Stately Executive
Buick might have a dowdy reputation in the US, but the brand has recently declared 2017 as “its best year ever” in China. The brand is enjoying immense success with 80% of the market being in China and a whopping 9 million vehicles sold to date. By historically targeting their product towards Chinese executives and government officials, Buick has an understated elite status. The company continues to cater to the tastes of the Chinese market, such as creating Envision, the first-ever Chinese-built Buick.
- Estée Lauder: From Mature to Millennial Cool
Estée Lauder has come a long way from its department store beginnings and anti-aging products. The brand has experienced success in China with 40% sales growth in 2017 and 50% of its online sales made over mobile. With China being its third largest market after the US and UK, the brand is constantly localizing its digital marketing to better further appeal to a more youthful consumer demographic. Its successful digital marketing strategy includes launching local influencer (KOL) campaigns and focusing its efforts on Chinese platforms such as Alibaba’s TMall marketplace, and digital marketing channels such as WeChat and Weibo.
- Abercrombie & Fitch: From Outdated 90’s Sex Appeal to Casual Luxury
Source: Abercrombie & Fitch
Half naked muscle men be gone. Struggling to revamp its passé brand image in order to make up for its declining sales, Abercrombie & Fitch closed 60 shops in the US in 2017. Meanwhile in China, the company has opened 12 brick and mortar locations and launched a Tmall shop to help boost its sales. To better appeal to the Chinese market, Abercrombie & Fitch has taken a different approach to its reinvention by focusing on quality clothes over sex appeal.
- Häagen-Dazs: From Family Brand to Romantic Icon
Source: General Mills
Häagen-Dazs is so established in China that it’s now synonymous with romance. The American company strategically modeled itself as an ultra-premium, European heritage luxury ice cream that is made in France. The brand also localized its products and campaigns to suit the market, such as launching a romantically-themed campaign featuring a popular Korean soap opera star to promote its signature ice cream mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, a local holiday.
These international brands have experienced success by doing the essential market research before launching in China. Key strategies in the process include localizing products and campaigns while adapting to local digital marketing platforms such as Tmall, WeChat and Weibo. The largest opportunities today are available through digital sales, particularly through mobile. Branding in China offers a great chance to create a new brand image while appealing to a growing, local consumer market.