Localization vs. Maintaining Product and Brand Consistency on the Chinese Market

Lots of traditional chinese items on a chinese market
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Localization vs. Maintaining Product and Brand Consistency on the Chinese Market

Localize too much, and you may lose your brand’s authenticity. Fail to localize enough, and the product may not be to Chinese tastes. Foreign companies walk a fine line between localizing and keeping their international image on the Chinese market.

Decathlon in China: Does Decathlon understand Chinese consumers?

Let’s take the example of Decathlon’s tent sales in China. Decathlon in China has had remarkable success with tents, but it wasn’t until investigating why tents were selling so well that they realized the need to modify their products or risk losing market share.

Chinese consumers were not buying tents for camping overnight, but rather using them for sun protection during a day at the park.

Illustration showing people buying on a china market

IKEA and Muji in China: the brands embraced the Chinese culture

When IKEA was faced with consumers sleeping on their display beds and hanging out for long periods in its stores, they first tried to fight it by having employees routinely make the rounds waking people up. In the end, IKEA embraced the Chinese culture and set up pop-up displays in places like airports knowing that Chinese customers would enjoy a place to relax. Muji in China has followed in IKEA’s steps, setting up pop-up displays, and other furniture brands displays are appearing in malls.

Streetview in a china market

Branding: know when and how to rebrand in China

When you read words like “baby formula, cosmetics, fast food, coffee, and airlines,” brand images will come to your mind. Brands influence people on a deep psycho-emotional level and building your brand image in a new market is a balancing act between your brand identity with all its history and localization of the brand’s image.

Entering the Chinese market requires a presentation of your authentic brand while at the same time taking into account the peculiarities of the Chinese market.

China market strategy: Deciding between local or international identity

Reinvent your brand, or not? 

When deciding between local or international identity in the Chinese market, the golden mean is always the best choice. The process of working out the details, of finding and maintaining a balance between these two elements requires drawing on rich experience, deep market knowledge, and professional intuition.

For instance, in the wine industry, there is a correlation between the longevity of a brand and the perceived quality. The emphasis on status has affected red wine sales in China. Bordeaux quickly became the most popular region for wines sold in China because of its rich history dating back to its formal classification as a category in 1855.

In the baked goods industry, there is a correlation between a brand’s international success and the perceived nutritional value and quality. A growing niche of Chinese consumers goes to popular Western franchises such as Costa Coffee or Starbucks to buy baked products that taste the same as those in Europe or North America. 

Fruits and vegetable stalls on a china market

China market entry: International brands can still learn much from the success of local leaders

International brands can still learn much from the success of local leaders. The Forbidden City is the beating heart of Beijing, the former imperial palace from the Ming to the end of the Qing dynasty and it now houses the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City has launched a number of branded goods and each of them has become a hit on social media, marking a return in the appeal of traditional Chinese culture in high-end products. The last hit was a line of lipstick, which was embraced by Chinese women to the extent that it went viral on social media.

Brand naming process in China: 80% research 20% creativity

A brand name is central to a brand’s image. The challenge is to present a brand competently and professionally in China, taking into account the local cultural, historical, and linguistic landscape. All international companies face the challenge of China brand naming, regardless of industry or scale.

Based on Daxue Consulting’s experience with brand naming, the brand naming process can be broken down into four stages, namely: Preparation, Name Development, Testing, and Finalization.

The brand naming process generates three to five high potential names from which a brand can choose. Without the help of local experts, creating a brand name in the Chinese market that both appeal to consumers and resonates with your brand image is nearly impossible.

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